Visual effects artist Rusty Hazelden has released an in-depth 4 part V-Ray tutorial series on YouTube. "The Art of V-Ray, Volume 1" is a practical guide to mastering the V-Ray renderer in Autodesk Maya. Rusty's tutorial series' are filled with expert tips and information, and his delivery of the material is fantastic.
I reached out to Rusty for a quick interview about his work and his wonderful tutorials. A link to his new "The Art of V-Ray Vol. 1" tutorial series follows, along with a complete description of the content. Be sure to check it out!
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, and what sparked your interest in visual effects?
I'm a VFX artist based in Nova Scotia, Canada. My interest in 3D graphics and visual effects began back in 1995 when I started using a color Macintosh computer with a 33MHz processor and 8MB of RAM!
Over the years I've had a chance to use just about every 3D tool on the market. Major milestones for me were Strata Vision 3D, Specular Infini-D, Bryce 3D, ElectricImage, Cinema4D, Alias StudioTools, Maya, and Houdini. Each tool was mind-blowing at the time, and as the years have progressed some of these packages have faded out, but many of them are still going strong.
As computers have gotten faster, the painfully slow aspects of 3D have changed. It is amazing what you can do today on a common desktop computer! It sure has come a long way since the days when VFX artists required high-end (and crazy expensive) Silicon Graphics workstations.
I love movies and in the late 90s, it was an exciting time to learn 3D. Each year when new blockbuster movies came out they were filled with all kinds of never before seen digital effects. I remember watching the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park. It was the first time I had ever seen such life-like creatures rendered in 3D and I was hooked on VFX from that point onward. Twister and Armageddon are still some of my favorite VFX driven movies from that era, and they still look amazing, even by today's standards!
How long have you been working in the industry?
I started working in the visual effects industry in the year 2000. I still find it hard to believe that was over 19 years ago - wow, time flies when you're having fun!
What made you decide to create tutorials and share your knowledge?
One problem I encountered early on while learning 3D applications, was a lack of video-based learning resources. New 3D software packages would often come on a series of disks or CDs, and if you were lucky, they included a user manual the size of a phone book! To master each tool I had to spend years reading these huge manuals over and over again. Since they were all on paper there wasn't a simple search function, so getting any kind of answer to a question would often take hours.
Then DVDs came along. I already had experience as a video editor, so I figured why not try and make this learning process a little bit simpler for others by taking all of my notes on 3D software and converting them into video tutorials. I made my first Maya training DVD in December 2003 and artists around the world started ordering it. Before long, I was busy putting DVDs in mailers and sending them all around the world. That was an exciting time, but the downside to learning from DVDs was the shipping time. I still remember stories from customers in far corners of the world that had to wait weeks for DVDs to arrive. Back then learning 3D still required a lot of patience.
Fast forward to today and now I'm releasing 3D tutorials on YouTube! I love the fact that anyone in the world can now learn with the click of a button, instantly.
How long have you been using Maya, and what do you feel are its best strengths? What do you like most about the software?
I started learning Maya back in the late 90s just after it was developed by Alias Wavefront. I always look forward to new releases and it keeps getting better each year. Maya used to be seen as a big box tool; meaning you would do everything from modeling and animation right through to dynamics and rendering in one application. It still is an invaluable tool in my workflow for modeling and animation, but now I also rely on many other specialized tools for certain tasks.
Houdini is great for projects that need dynamic simulations like clouds, water, fire, or destruction.
RenderMan and V-Ray are amazing renderers and now I use them in both Maya and Houdini. We are now in a world where you can easily move projects between 3D apps, depending on what the project requires.
What might your next series of tutorials be? Do you plan on tutorials in other software or general learning in the future?
I recently started my YouTube Channel with Maya based 3D tutorials. Right now I have videos on modeling in Maya, along with rendering using RenderMan and V-Ray. In the next few months, I will be adding new tutorials featuring Houdini and Katana.
Do you have any advice for those interested in getting started in visual effects?
It's great to see so many new artists taking an interest in 3D and VFX. To get a job in the highly competitive visual effects industry your demo reel has to stand out. My advice for artists is to look at their demo reel and select only their absolute best work. A short reel with one amazing model or animation is going to open a lot more doors than a longer reel filled with less polished work.
Watch the V-Ray tutorial series today on the Rusty Hazelden's YouTube Channel:
Discover how to harness the power of V-Ray through a series of in-depth Maya tutorials that focus on rendering an exciting television commercial featuring colorful splashes of paint.
V-Ray is an Academy Award-winning production renderer used to create blockbuster movies, high-end television commercials, and everything in between.
In this tutorial series, visual effects artist Rusty Hazelden breaks down a series of shots in a television commercial and reveals the techniques used to render colorful splashes of paint using V-Ray for Maya.
The fluid simulations were created in Maya using the Phoenix FD plug-in and saved as Alembic cache files.
Essential topics include: an in-depth look at the V-Ray frame buffer and the V-Ray render settings, adjusting lights and materials in real-time using the V-Ray IPR renderer, and a comparison of progressive and bucket rendering modes.
Find out whether you should render your next V-Ray project on the GPU or CPU.
Learn a wide range of lighting techniques that can be used to create a dramatic studio environment.
Discover how to enhance the realism of a shot by enabling motion blur with the V-Ray Physical Camera.
Advanced topics include: using the V-Ray light lister to adjust light attributes, creating render elements, and viewing them in the VFB, viewing Alembic caches using a variety of display modes, and batch rendering an animation to multichannel EXR files.
Along the way, learn numerous tips for efficient rendering including how to speed up your renders by using test resolutions in the VFB, unlock the hidden IPR debug shading modes, and discover how to use the powerful V-Ray denoiser to slash render times.
Essential Topics: • V-Ray Frame Buffer / VFB • V-Ray History Window • Test Resolutions • Viewport Render • IPR Render • IPR Debug Shading Modes • Isolate Selected • Ambient Occlusion • V-Ray Material • Diffuse Color • Specular Highlights • VRayLightRect / Area Light • V-Ray Light Lister • Key, Fill, and Rim Lighting • Render Settings • Production Engine • GPU vs. CPU Rendering • Bucket Rendering • Progressive Rendering • Image Sampler • Global Illumination • Brute Force Light Cache • Batch Rendering • Multichannel EXR files • Render Elements / AOVs • Sample Rate Render Element • Denoiser Render Element • V-Ray Denoiser • Filename Tokens • VRayProxy / VRayMesh Node • Rendering Alembic Cache Files • Extra V-Ray Attributes • V-Ray Physical Camera • Motion Blur / Shutter Angle
About Rusty Rusty Hazelden is a visual effects artist with a passion for movies. He makes videos on YouTube about movie visual effects techniques using Maya, RenderMan, and V-Ray.
Nick C Sorbin (Nick Charles) is a former Managing Editor of 9 years for Renderosity's CG Industry News. By day, a mild-mannered Certified Pharmacy Technician working in both home infusion and a hospital ER, contrasting creative outlets as a digital artist, sculptor, musician, singer/songwriter, and Staff Writer for Renderosity Magazine. Read his articles