I am in the group of people who believe that a mid range gaming laptop is good enough for VFX Work. This is because gaming laptops have the same features an average vfx artist would need.
The Acer Helios 300 is probably one of the best deals you can get. The laptop’s PCIe SSD storage is one of the fastest in the market today making it a great choice for working locally in nuke.
It does have cons, like having speakers on the bottom then again, most students I know always listen to music with their headphones.
- 10th Generation Intel Core i7-10750H 6-Core Processor (Up to 5.0GHz)
- Overclockable NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 with 6 GB of dedicated GDDR6 VRAM
- 15.6″ Full HD (1920 x 1080) LED-backlit IPS Display with 144Hz Refresh Rate (16:9 aspect ratio, 3ms Overdrive Response Time, 300nit Brightness & 72% NTSC)
- 16GB DDR4 2933MHz Memory & 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD (1 – PCIe M.2 Slot Available & 1 – Available Hard Drive Bay)
- Killer Double Shot Pro Wireless-AX 1650i 802.11ax WiFi 6 featuring 2×2 MU-MIMO technology (Dual-Band 2.4GHz and 5GHz) & Killer Ethernet E2600 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet LAN
Total Amount with Taxes in Canadian Dollars as of August 24 2020
I have been asked by many students over the years what specs they should get for a home workstation PC. I usually answer this question based on their budget.
This is my build for a $3000 budget. I usually invest a little more in things like Monitors, Keyboard, Mouse & Tablet as these things tend to outlive the workstation itself.
AMD Ryzen 7 3700X 8-Core, 16-Thread Unlocked Desktop Processor with Wraith Prism LED Cooler
Price – $429.99
MSI ProSeries AMD Ryzen 2ND and 3rd Gen AM4 M.2 USB 3 DDR4 D-Sub DVI HDMI Micro-ATX Motherboard (B450M PRO-VDH Max)
Price – $150.55
Corsair Vengeance RGB PRO 32GB (4x8GB) DDR4 3200MHz C16 LED Desktop Memory, Black
Price – $257.99
Storage 1 – Nuke Localize
WD Blue 3D NAND 500GB Internal PC SSD – SATA III 6 Gb/s, M.2 2280, Up to 560 MB/s – WDS500G2B0B
Price – $79.99
MSI Gaming GeForce GTX 1650 128-Bit HDMI/DP 4GB GDRR6 HDCP Support DirectX 12 Dual Fan VR Ready OC Graphics Card (GTX 1650 D6 Gaming X)
Price – $144.99
NZXT H510 Compact Atx Mid-Tower PC Gaming Case, Front I/O USB Type-C Port, Tempered Glass Side Panel,Cable Management System
Price – $99.99
Storage 2 – OS / Data Drive
WD Blue 3D NAND 1TB Internal PC SSD – SATA III 6 Gb/s, 2.5″/7mm, Up to 560 MB/s – WDS100T2B0A
Price – $139.99
ARCTIC MX-4 2019 Edition – Thermal Compound Paste – Carbon Based High Performance – Heatsink Paste
Price – $11.81
BenQ 27″ 2560×1440 QHD IPS Designer Monitor (PD2700Q), 100% Rec. 709 and sRGB, CAD/CAM, Animation, Darkroom, Low Blue Light, Flicker-Free , 60Hz refresh rate, Black
Price – $399.99
Das Keyboard 4 Root Soft Tactile Cherry MX Brown Mechanical Keyboard
Price – $209 + $25.08
Import Fees Deposit
Logitech MX Master 3 Advanced Wireless Mouse – Graphite
Price – $123.35
Wacom Intuos Wireless Graphics Drawing Tablet with Bonus Software Included, 10.4″ X 7.8″, Black (CTL6100WLK0)
Price – $279.95
Windows 10 Home
Price – $189
One of the common questions I get from my students about computers is, should I get a full workstation (Desktop PC) or a laptop.
I recommend international students to get a laptop. Buy the best one they can afford from global brands like MSI or Dell. For portability and also international warranties.
They will also quickly realize that they need a second monitor. Some of my students go out and buy a cheap monitor and sell it right before they move. But there is a new alternative; Portable Monitors.
I recently purchased an AZMIOR 4K 15.6 Portable Monitor. I was sick of changing the input of my 4K monitor to play my PS4 at my desk. Also, when I change inputs on my monitor, Windows reshuffles some of my program windows to accommodate the change in overall resolution.
Even though I got it for gaming, it is something I am planning to bring along with me once it is safe to travel.
If you are a student or a junior artist, I recommend picking a portable monitor to use as your second screen in your room. And when you have to move, you can just bring it along wherever you go. There several models out there with options like 4K, HD, with Touch Screen, HDR, FreeSync, etc. If you are a stickler for colour accuracy and HDR implantation, you will not find it among portable monitors.
For compositing students, and fresh graduates, these monitors can be used to expand your nuke workspace or to watch a tutorial.
The cool thing about some of these monitors is they have hdmi and usb-c inputs. You can connect your PS4, XBOX, Switch, and even your phones to these monitors.
There is one thing you need to know, even though they are called portable monitors, they do need power. Some of them can draw power from the device they are plugged into thru the USB-C but if you are using hdmi for video, you need to power your portable monitors. Some people have tried to power them through those portable chargers and they do work but you have to figure if those chargers produce enough amp to power your monitors.
Frankly, I am only ever going to use this device if I have a power source nearby. I am also not one of those people who go to a coffee shop to work, occupy an entire table, and hog all the power outlets. These monitors are meant to be used in your own personal space.
I highly recommend looking into one, if you need a second monitor and are planning to move where ever the wind takes you.
On Christmas of 2019, my wife got me the Peak Design Tech Pouch as a gift.
I have to say; I love it. This is one of the best tech pouches out there. It’s made of durable material, carries a lifetime warranty, and fits all of your tech accessories and gadgets.
I first used it on my trip to Montreal in January. The thing I loved most this pouch was I am able to keep every charging cable I need in one bag. This is especially useful on a flight. I kept this pouch under my seat and whenever I needed a cable, I just reached for my pouch.
And when I checked into my Airbnb, all I had to do was place the bag on the side table near my bed and everything become an arm’s reach away.
Here’s what I had in my Tech Pouch
- Permanent Resident Card
- All receipts (useful if you are on a business trip)
- Charging Cable for Switch
- Charging Cable for Galaxy Tab
- Charging Cable for Surface Pro Go
- Universal Travel Adaptor
- Pen (always bring a pen on a flight!)
- Microfiber Cloth
- USB Power Adaptor
- Emergency Pair of Contacts
It’s pricy, but then again, I don’t think I will ever need another one.
Comes in two colours – Black and Sage
Sometimes when I look around, I see people doing too many things at once. In Singapore, we have a word for it, kiasu. In the west it is called the Fear of Missing Out or FOMO for short. People don’t want to lose out on any experience in life. Some students can’t bring themselves to work without their favorite music or have their favorite tv shows playing on their second monitor while they work. They spend a good deal of time preparing to work, then working. And even when they work, they get distracted by social media and the news. Things that they have absolutely no control over and things that will be forgotten in about 20 mins.
Behind every successful person is their ability to focus on their one thing. If you can somehow manage to not be distracted and give all your attention to the task at hand, you will see extraordinary results.
This book, the One Thing, shows you how you can take control of your distractions and bring the much-needed focus into your life.
Even if you don’t read this book in its entirety, I recommend watching this video.
This book, It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s how Good You Want to Be, is in my top 10 all-time favorite books to read.
Self-help books are filled with filler materials. Like how Mary did this or that and suddenly saw incredible changes to her life or how researchers studied this one anomaly in a person who had an accident and found an odd behavioral pattern and by hacking this pattern, we too can achieve incredible results.
The problem with these books is, they are like 200-300 pages to read, with maybe 3 to 4 useful things to say and even less to implement in our daily lives. It also puts the burden on you to make your own notes about those topics and the exercises the author suggests you to perform loses its appeal or practicality after a week or two of trying. It is almost certain you will never read that book again because of its length or the tedious nature of its exercises.
This is precisely why I love this book. It is funny and straight to the point. Every page is fun to read. Simple to read. And also extremely short to read. You can read this book in 10-15 minutes. This means you are more likely to read it again and again and also you will remember each page more clearly because each page is accompanied by a unique and fun image.
And I have said this to so many students now, that it can now safely be called my catchphrase, “Change your words and it will change your life”.
What you say to yourself before you start something, and while you are doing it and how you talk about it after you finished it, determines your life.
This book is one of those books that will help change the voice in your head. Trust me, if you truly understand what this book is trying to say, this could be the best $10 investment you could have made for yourself.
Cable Ties, I hate them. We all hate them.
You know the ones I am talking about, those cheap multi-colored/black/white/transparent ties that once you fasten them, the only way to unfasten them is to cut them open. Those single-use, sharp cable ties that are a pain to work with.
Yes, get a hundred! That way you won’t run out of cable ties and you will enjoy cable managing your entire home.
I own 400 hundred of them. I bought 4 packs in the last 3 years and have used them at the studio, in my office, on my home theater system, on all my spare cables, given it to my friends to cable manage their home computer setups and I still have over 200 ties left.
Not having to cut to open these ties means you can keep reusing them indefinitely as they don’t seem to lose their gripyness.
When I add or remove monitors, USB hubs, tablets, charging stations, keyboards, mice, from my home PC setup, all I have to do is unfasten, add or remove cables and wrap the tie around my cables and onto itself again for a secure hold.
I have been using computers since the late 1980s and let me tell you, this is one of the best things to have ever happened to cables.
There is one branch of philosophy I follow more than others, that is Stoicism. It was designed for those of us who live our lives in the real world. It does not push any lofty ideals on you but instead teaches you how to navigate what is in front of you.
Stoicism has been a common way of thinking among some great leaders throughout history. Kings, Presidents, Artist, and Writers practiced it. For a more modern example, we can attribute its success to Entrepreneurs, Football Coaches, and Doctors.
I first chanced upon Stoicism when I was researching about Emperor Marcus Aurelius.
To fully comprehend the wisdom of Marcus Aurelius and what separated him from most of the past and present world leaders, we have to look at what he left behind. Today we know his legacy to us through a book called Meditations; the private thoughts of the most powerful man in the world, admonishing himself on how to be more virtuous, more just, more immune to temptation and wiser.
Trying to read Meditations in its original form however can be quite a challenge, for the style of writing is not what most of us are accustomed to.
So how does one learn about Stoicism? I suggest picking up this book – Unshakable Freedom : Ancient Stoic Secrets Applied to Modern Life by Dr. Chuck Chakrapani
It comes highly recommended as this book captures the basic spirit of Stoicism and how those same ancient teachings can be translated and applied to our modern existence.
Today is Monday. Mondays are for sharing my home office setup.
If you are planning to learn to composite or even do a little freelance compositing, you need a proper space to do so. By creating a space somewhere in your home for a computer, you are telling yourself that you will sit there and figure things out.
This is a remarkable first step; announcing to the world that you are serious about this career. To help you, I will share with you how I set my space, starting with power bars.
Yes, a crucial office equipment that most people do not give a second thought about and use the ones they find lying around their house or buy the cheapest one at their local grocery store and to top it all off, string them together like some kind of unnatural centipede.
Why do you ask? The power strip has 12 power outlets that are space further apart than most regular power bars. Enough space for you to plug in those awful external hard drive power plugs. I have 3 of them in my office, yes that is 36 power outlets! (I have 58 power outlets, more on that later) and also another power strip in my living room which powers my home theater.
The thing I like most about this power bar, in particular, is, well, it’s rectangular and because of its shape, its seats flushed to the wall. Looks neat under the desk, too. I am not one for having one of those sexy YouTube dream desk setups. I suspect anyone who has a clean desk devoid of any work-related material! My setup is entirely functional.
To be a great compositor, you will need to know how light works and how it can be manipulated to create realistic composites.
Throughout my years of teaching, I often come across students whom seemed to struggle with understanding how light works in the physical world. Everything we do in the computer is but a crude approximation of the physical world. If you don’t know how light works in the physical world, how are you supposed to create photo real composites.
Yes, you might have had some classes in physics class about the angle of reflection and refractive indices, but how many of you understand why things look like the way they do.
The book, Light for Visual Artists, aims to guide artists about the fundamentals properties of natural and artificial light. If you are wondering if this book is one of those dry physics textbooks, rest assured, the author has written in a manner that won’t put you to sleep.
This book is divided into 3 Sections:
Section 1 : The fundamentals of light are explained with a focus on taking the underlying scientific concepts and explaining them in an artist-friendly manner.
Section 2 : Those concepts are then deployed on common subject matter, and the book details how to light people and environments in depth.
Section 3 : The creative application of light are explained and concepts such as staging, mood, and symbolism are demonstrated in great detail.
I highly recommend this book because it covers everything from the technical to the creative and is the most thorough, and scientific book on lighting available for compositors.
Go to Lost Boys. There I’ve said it and I wholeheartedly stand by this.
You are free to look around, but I doubt you will find a better or more intense program out there. I was the first and I am the best at what I do. I have made bartenders, lawyers, dentist, Uniqlo sales people, military personals, etc into compositors.
Need Proof, check this out.
You could work in the Visual Effects industry a year from now or spend the next year trying to do hundreds of crappy online tutorials and wonder why no one wants to hire you.
And good luck trying to find a school that will give a damn after you graduate. Let alone, teach you how to manage your shots, ace interviews, negotiate salary, and know about job openings before they become public knowledge.
Want to know more, go here – https://lostboys-studios.com/advanced-visual-effects-compositing/
If you want to apply, go here – https://lostboys-studios.com/admissions/