Dawn of the Planet of the Apes


The film begins with an extreme close-up on Caesar’s face

I was very lucky to be given the opportunity to composite the iconic opening shot of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes as part of the team at Weta Digital. This beautiful film contains a host of breathtaking moments and some truly ground-breaking work, from everyone at the studio.

"GO !"

In a dramatic scene in the forest, Koba tells the human’s to leave.

The image above is from another shot I composited as part of the team at Weta Digial.

Both images are taken from an article by FXGuide http://www.fxguide.com/featured/ape-acting/ which describes some of the work undertaken on the film. Please go check it out.

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The Wolverine


The folks over at FXGuide have done a feature article on the work we did for the ‘De-ageing’ sequence on the recent film The Wolverine. In this article I was asked to go through what we did and how it was achieved in detail.

Please head over and check it out at http://www.fxphd.com/blog/de-age-vfx-fxphd-prof-tahl-niran-breaks-down-the-wolverine/


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Back to work: Iron Man 3

Weta Digital in Wellington, New Zealand.

Weta Digital in Wellington, New Zealand.

After a few months focusing on training and consulting I was given to the opportunity to join the crew at Weta Digital as a compositor at the end of February. Most people will be aware of their fantastic work over the past 10 years and the many great visual effects they have created. As always I am super excited to go join the team at a new facility where there is so much cool stuff going on and so much to learn.

My first show at Weta was compositing on Iron Man 3. You can take a look at some of the amazing work done by the team in this video:


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NUK 104 : Introduction to Nuke v7

NUK104 : Introduction to Nuke 7. A new course at FXPHD

NUK104 : Introduction to Nuke 7. A new course at FXPHD

NUKE is the most popular vfx compositing package in the world today. Find out why everyone from the largest film vfx facility to small motion graphics shops are relying on NUKE to turn the impossible into the possible and make their work look better.Taught by Tahl Niran, this course will cover all of the basic tools and techniques you need to get up and running with the latest version of The Foundry’s NUKE as well as give you a good solid foundation in how to composite live action footage, CG renders and even work with cameras and objects from your 3D application. Designed as a guide for people with little or no experience using the application, a good understanding of photoshop, after effects or similar application is recommended.

Tahl Niran is a compositor and trainer who has been working in visual effects since 1999. In that time he has worked in games, broadcast design, TV commercials and feature films and trained artists in Australia, London, New York, Mumbai and Shanghai. Tahl was one of the foundation professors at fxphd and also one of the creators of the original Foundry NUKE Masterclasses. He returns to fxphd after three years in London working with the team at Double Negative Visual Effects.

class syllabus

  • Class 1: An introduction to node based compositing. Using Nuke and the UI, viewers, channels, basic merge operations, nulls and no – ops.
  • Class 2: Importing images into Nuke. Nuke and colourspace, using the Viewer, colour sampling, colour correction basics. Using the write node to render images and relative and absolute paths in Nuke.
  • Class 3: Mattes and Roto: Generating mattes and masks and the Roto node. Creating includes and excludes. Stencil and Mask vs In and Out, unders, overs, and how it all works.
  • Class 4: Transforming, moving and animating an image in nuke. Using time and keyframes.
  • Class 5: Green and Blue screens. Understanding how to Colour and Luma keyers work. Combining live action images without alpha channels.
  • Class 6: Tracking. Matching pattern matching and planar tracking. Making it all stick.
  • Class 7: Introducing the 3D system in NUKE. Cameras, Geometry, Transforms and how to move in and out of 3d space in the same application.
  • Class 8: The 3D system continues. Using models and camera from a 3D application in NUKE. Moving files back and forth between Maya and NUKE.
  • Class 9: Projections and how you can create the incredible with NUKE’s model builder and camera projection tools.
  • Class 10: Multipass compositing. Using colour and data passes to composite better looking 3D images and control 3D renders.
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NUK219 : Working with vfx tools

NUK219: Working with Advanced VFX Tools

Working in the trenches, artists often find it difficult to keep up with the latest changes in the industry. As part of our on going commitment to provide Core training in visual effects, we have constructed a course which will highlight some of the latest visual effects tools and techniques, enabling artists to use the most up to date software features in both the upcoming Nuke v7, Maya 2013 and the latest crop of renderers.

Go beyond the manuals and pre-canned demos to examine how new tools and technology actually work. Tahl Niran and Matt Leonard are joining forces to create a comprehensive overview of features using practical examples and some complex projects to demonstrate how to make all the applications, formats and tools work together.

This course will feature both breakdowns of the technology of advanced tools AND project based classes in which they will explain how to use these complex tool to produce quality work . A good working knowledge of both Maya and Nuke is essential for people wishing to get the most out of this class.

Tahl Niran, is a compositor and trainer who has been working in visual effects since 1999. In that time he has worked in games, broadcast design, tv commercials and feature films and trained artists in Australia, London, New York, Mumbai and Shanghai. Tahl was one of the foundation professors at FXPHD and also one of the creators of the original Foundry Nuke Masterclasses. He returns to FXPHD after three years in London working with the team at Double Negative Visual Effects.

Leonard has been in the 3D and visual effects industry for 19 years and has produced work for feature films, commercials and large corporate projects. He has spoken at various events and shows on behalf of Autodesk, The Foundry and eyeon Software and has had articles published in magazines and journals. He has worked as a beta tester for Maya, Mari, Mudbox, Nuke and Fusion. He currently runs his own on-site training company in the UK and has trained artists from companies such as Double Negative, Ghost VFX, Dreamworks Animation and Framestore.

Class 1: What is openColor IO (OCIO) ? Introduction to the use of OCIO for colour management in Nuke. Overview of OCIO nodes and concepts:linear workflow, scene referred linear, and nuke colour management.

Class 2: Continue working pipeline.

Class 3: Choosing a render engine. Features, Image quality, and practical output options. How do you choose? We’ll cover Pixar’s RenderMan, Nvidia’s mental ray, Solid Angel’s Arnold, and Chaos Group’s V-Ray.

Class 4: Dealing with CG in comp. Let’s settle this multipass thing once and for all, by examining how to use all the passes, determining what you need and what you don’t, and taking a look at some simple tools and techniques for getting the most out of CG passes.

Class 5: Project 1 We dive into our first project, using Maya, Nuke and Camera tracking to integrate a CG object complete with particles and other interactions in to a live action environment. The first class will be plate prep, cleanup, and root. Using NUKE and the new v7 tracker and rotopaint to create the plate, using the Extra Matrix to share data between the planer and 2D track, Mocha, and all your root and paint nodes.

Class 6: Project 1, cont. Creating 3D assets. We’ll use Maya, Mari and our selected renderer to create the 3D assets needed for our Project. Lighting rendering and breaking our 3d work into deliverables for comp

Class 7: Project 1, cont. Compositing CG assets and making it work. Colour matching, optical enhancements and integration using CG data from 3d for complex interaction.

Class 8: Project 2. Our second project is a localized HDRI project utlizing Maya, mental ray, and NUKE. We’ll be using projected images and proxy geometry to create a localized HDR Illuminated object integrate into an environment. In part 1, we’ll be creating assets for 3D, setting up HDR material for our Image Based Lighting scene. We’ll use NUKE to Create virtual sets to aid in lighting and integration.

Class 9: Project 2, Part 2. Creating 3d assets. We’ll create an IBL asset in Maya, generate output passes, and include rendering workflow tips and tricks.

Class 10: Project 2, Part 3. Compositing the Project. We’ll integrate rendered CG assets back into our scene using previously created Gizmos, use tools to add extra 3D in NUKE, and much more.

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Now Teaching New Courses

Vfx202 : Visual Effects Foundation II

VFX 202 : Visual Effects Foundations II

This course continues from VFX201, building on the concepts learnt and look at how the simple operations and theories shown in the first course can be weaved into more complex tools and techniques.

A typical day for a Nuke artist might involve tasks like Track, Keying, Matching Grain and even projecting Images to aid in a cleaning up a plate. VFX202 will attempt to shed more light on how these process work and how more complex operations are woven together to make the scripts that you rely on to create Visual Effects.

Additionally we will take a look at some very simple and versatile mathematical concepts that drive most of the expressions that you will ever need to write, along with some very useful practical examples.

Finally we will delve into the world of 3d, looking at how even the most advanced tools and concepts in 3d like, Rendering, Rigging, simulation and more can be understood in very simple terms so that people with a limited knowledge of 3d can work hand in hand with 3d artists of all specializations.

For this course material will be demonstrated in primarily in Nuke and Maya, although all techniques can be translated to any application.

Class 01 : Data Passes and Image Maps.

What all those funky Maps and additional passes do. Normal, Point Position, Depth, ID and more. Understanding Displacement and vector based transforms.

Class 02: Data Passes and Image Maps (Continued)

Using complex tools to get the most out of those additional passes.  How to use them all and how to make sense of those colours.

Class 03: Expressions made easy:

What I never learnt in Math class but wished I had. How expressions are simple ways of making a computer your bitch !

Class 04 : Simple Expressions Complex tasks

Four Core Mathematical concepts that will make you a master at expressions. Average, Negate, Normalise, Equalise. Unlimited possibilities

Class 05: Keying Made Easy

The magic of a keyer striped bare. How to make your own keyers and how to get under the hood of greenscreen extractions. Learning what to do when a keyer fails.

Class 06: Keying In Depth

Beyond matte extraction. Spill, fringing edges and alternatives to the Pre-multiplied keyer !

Class 07: Make it Stick

Tracking and everything you should know about make them fail. The differences in between pattern based, planar and optical flow based trackers and how to choose. A look at the new tacking technology in Nuke 7.

Class 08: Noise and Grain

Understanding grain and why it occurs. Creating a custom grain node and how to emulate the look of grain on a non-photographic image.

Class 09: Focus and Blur

Optics are a crucial part of every VFX shot. How to understand the effect of shooting an image and how to use  Nuke to create believable optical effects using Nuke 7’s zDefocus node.

Class 10: Something Awesome

Emerging technology and what is hot right now. Stay tuned for new developments as material for this class will de-mystify some of the more interesting VFX tools that are being discussed.

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Current Activities

I am currently teaching a class at FXPHD called VFX201: VFX Foundations.

Topics include :

  • Class 1: Understanding how we see : the problem – why we need colour theory and the limits of human vision, display systems and how your application lies to you and luminance, chrominance and why you suck at seeing both!
  • Class 2: Modern models of colour : the solution – defining, encoding and recording color, display systems and how they can lie to you plus file formats and the ins and outs of managed colour pipelines
  • Class 3: Jargon busting : who is marcie? and why do we care – density, log and linear colour in practice and converting colour from storage to a usable medium for manipulation.
  • Class 4: Out of the dark ages : It’s all about light. The notion of a photometric linear image, beyond black and white and Dmin and why Josh Pines was right!
  • Class 5: Now you get it, its time to move it. logical colour manipulations, dangerous manipulations and defining the mathematics of colour correction
  • Class 6: Those that don’t understand history are doomed to repeat it. The history of image composition, understanding why addition and multiplication rule your daily life and remove the word layering from your vocabulary
  • Class 7: How to put “A” over “B” – the one basic presupposition for all modern compositing applications and why most people working in VFX today don’t understand it. What the word presupposition means!
  • Class 8: What if I told you there is no blur? The matrix explained! Kernels, convolution and why you will never pay for a plug-in filter again.
  • Class 9: Popular tools and techniques broken down to an atomic level. Keyer, filter or colour correct its all much simpler than you thought! Everything is just a colour operation and why I spent so long earlier on teaching you about colour.
  • Class 10: The Matrix reloaded! All this time you thought you were moving images… you aren’t. Affine, perspective and displacement. Understanding vectors and per pixel manipulation.
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