VFX Set Extensions | CG Master Academy


VFX Set Extensions

A detailed 8 week course focusing on creating digital VFX environments.

Course overview Course overview

Course Overview

Expand Your World

This 8 week course provides an in-depth look at the process for creating set extensions used in film and television. During this course students will create a visual effects(VFX) set extension with a focus on 3D environment creation and matt painting integration. The course is suitable for someone looking to develop their 3D Generalist skills. Skills covered in the course will be layout, modelling, 3D/2D texturing, projection material setup, shot look development, VFX lighting, 2 ½D matt painting(DMP) and render pass compositing. Software covered will be Autodesk’s Maya, Arnold Renderer, The Foundry’s Mari and Nuke and Adobe Photoshop. 

Students will be creating a digital extension of an abandoned Nuclear Power station which will be integrated into background drone footage. This real life example will provide a meaningful production context for the whole course. We will be using industry standards and workflows to teach people about a VFX pipeline, save time and improve production efficiency. 

Students will be guided through the production process and given regular feedback to ensure a production quality result that can be used for portfolio and raise their environment industry knowledge and skill level.


Course Format:   Standard
Lecture Type:   Pre Recorded
Feedback:   Individual Recordings
Duration:   8 Weeks
Assignment:   Due each week. Expect to spend 10-15 hrs/wk viewing lectures, q&a, and assignments
Q&A:   Once a week
Materials:   Maya, Arnold Renderer, The Foundry’s Mari and Nuke, Adobe Photoshop.
Skills level:   Intermediate - advanced
Prerequisites:   Basic working knowledge of Maya modeling and Photoshop. Course recommendations: Intro to Production Modeling, Hard Surface Modeling for Films, Lighting & Shading for Film


What you'll learn

The more you know, the better.

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Shot briefing | Planning modelling work | Choosing Modeling and texture reference | Extra Photoshop intro | Extra Maya modelling intro | Complete Foundry’s introduction to Mari course
Using match moved cameras data for modeling and layout | Efficient modeling methods | Using an image modeling workflow with cameras and image projections | Making and presenting layout
Adding extra modelling detail | Using additional images for image modelling | Modeling Level of Detail explained | Asset modeling workflow | UV mapping as we go | Adding extra damage | utilizing deformers | Presenting rendered layouts | Introduction to Arnold render settings | Lighting setup
Detailed asset UV mapping | Hotkeys and using UV Toolkit | How and when to re-use UVs | When and how to use a quicker less detail orientated UV mapping | Multiple UV UDIM layout | Create UV layout for models | Create subdivision surfaces divisions for model
Introduction to 3D painting with Mari | Materials and channels | Using procedural texturing such as tri-planar projections | Painting with images | Working with layers, groups, masks and adjustment layers | Making masks for dirt
Node Graph workflow in Mari | Making and adjusting brushes | Adding additional texture detail | Using projectors with photoshop and Mari | Setup projection workflow | Introduction to Mari materials
Setting up shot look dev environment | Using HDR and light probe spheres | Lighting and render settings | Draft render settings for quick feedback | Setup materials | Isolate and look develop displacement, bump and spec maps | Create additional materials
VFX lighting process fully explained such as matching plate lighting, exposure and shadows | Color management workflow | colorspace LUT usage | Using and preparing HDRs | Lighting with Arnold lights | Render settings and optimized workflow | Maya/Arnold render layers | Rendering AOVs
Matt painting(MP) fundamentals explained including color, scale, perspective, lighting | Setting up MP | Projection setup in Nuke | Nuke compositing of rendered pass AOVs and integrating projections

Unleashing your creativity

Paul McWilliams has been Environment Generalist and Lighting artist working on films as ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’ and the Visual Effects Oscar award- winning ‘Inception’. Paul’s filmography can be viewed on IMDB. He has worked in production at visual effects companies including DNEG and MPC. He has educational training experience as a Learning lead at Technicolor Academy and instructor at the National Film and Television School (NFTS, Beaconsfield, England). He is a returning instructor to CGMA having previously mentored an Environment Creation course with CGWorkshops. He is also a fully Qualified Teacher with a Post Graduate Certificate of Education (PGCE from Institute of Education, University College London).


April 23rd!

Spring TERM Registration

Feb 8, 2021 - Apr 26, 2021




April 23rd!

Pricing & Schedule

Even though our courses are the most affordable for the quality of education.

These Finance Options allow you to focus on your goals instead of the barriers that keep you from reaching them.

Employer Reimbursement

Animation Guild CSATTF

Payment Plan

Companies that hire our students

  • Naughty Dog
  • Luma Pictures
  • Google
  • EA Games
  • DreamWorks Animation
  • Blizzard Entertainment

environment design Benefits


What makes this learning experience unique?

Personal Feedback

Receive personal individual feedback on all submitted assignments from the industries best artist.

1+ Year Access

Enjoy over 365 days of full course access. This includes all lectures, feedback, and Live Q&A recordings.

Certificate of Completion

Earn a Certificate of Completion when you complete and turn in 80% of course assignments.

Flexible Learning

Learn anywhere, anytime, and at your own pace with our online courses.

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