Grimm's Full Bundle Review
I bought the full bundle just before the release of the UDK Lighting & Post Processing addition, and purchased that yesterday.
The DVD's I've watched so far and their corresponding reviews:
UDK Intro & Application:
A great intro into the UDK and is in my opinion the best starting off point for anyone looking to begin learning the UDK. The version of the UDK was several behind where it was when I watched it so some things were out of place a bit, but it doesn't take long to find. Mostly in world and light settings. Over all its a great intro into the UDK and gets you very familiar/comfortable with navigating and handling the beast that is the engine. Hourences does a great job at really breaking it down, has great pacing and is very entertaining just to listen to.
A great look into the material editor, and I actually watched this after I watched the Cascade introduction which refers to the Material Editor a lot. If I had it to do over again I'd watch this one after the UDK Intro and go from there. Really comprehensive and sets you up to take what is shown to you and expand quickly with a good foundation to build off of. Its a bit slow at times, but overall definitely cool stuff.
I can't say that I'm a fan of long break downs of User Interfaces and such, however, given the complexity of the Cascade System within unreal, it's somewhat necessary. After the initial bookmarks/sub-chapters or whatever you want to call them, it really picks up, however, and you get into the nitty gritty of some cool effects and again are set up with a good foundation to really build off of.
UDK VFX Material Transitions:
Although this does go into Kismet & Cascade *briefly* at its heart its really an expansion on the Material Introduction dvd to me. It really expanded my thoughts on how to approach materials, and gave me ideas for static material set ups that have come in handy that I wouldn't have really considered an option previously.
UDK Lighting & Post Processing
This is the one that I started on today at work, and its sweet as hell. So far its really taken what I've learned from the other dvd's and added to it even further. At the moment I've only gotten as far as to finish 2 out of the 3 major chapter blocks, being that I watch these dvd's at work, but this ones really easy to follow especially if you have a decent understanding of the UDK or have watched the other DVD's of the UDK as well.
It didn't go as in depth into post processing materials as I would have liked, but the guys gave me a good snippet of shader set ups, ideas, and explained the key widgets for achieving the effects displayed, as well as overviews of the shaders that generated some really cool effects. In my opinion as far as post processing to understand the material based post processing you really need to have the ability to break down the shaders visually just based on the visual representation of the shader network, which means you need to have spent some time actually working with creating your own materials (of course most of us have). Though for those of you who haven't I'd suggest prying through at least the Intro and Materials DVDs.
For the Lighting section I watched, great. A really thorough breakdown of lighting, light linking, volumes and the different light/shadow maps.
The third chapter Jim Magill quickly walks through lighting his scene. He does explain lightmass and how to tweak settings for it, but to me its actually more of how he lights his scene. As he explains various settings as he goes along they reveal tidbits of technique, and while its not presented as such thats really what I got out of his section and I give a big thumbs up to it. The break down of the reports and how to read them is definitely thank you worthy (thanks).
Unreal Kismet Introduction
I have just started this and a review will follow sometime soon.
ZBrush A comprehensive introduction:
It does a good job of breaking down ZBrush 3.5 with some explanations of 3.1's limitations in comparison. Overall I enjoyed it and impressed with ZBrush's overall capabilities, and it really takes away some of the overwhelming feelings that you or at least I got when I first open up ZBrush and am bombarded with menus.
Some things I'd like to see in future DVDs:
#1: A more consistent menu set up: At the moment through all the dvd's all of them have had similar, but different menus. Some just start and go, and others are start at a menu screen where its broken down into major chapters that once played bring up the sub-chapters. I think keeping it in a standardized menu would be better as the instructors could really place what should be watched fist instead of being an educated guess on the viewers part.
The start to finish method of the UDK Intro was great. To put say put the Lighting & Post processing into that set up would be beneficial and could be done like:
X's being a small graphical widget that when moused over told you the name of the chapter and following sub-chapters.
#2: I'd like it if spacebar or "p" or some key was a pause/play feature. It's annoying to have to constantly wiggle the mouse to bring up the time slider to click pause/play every time I need to pause or play the video. True I'm sure I do this far more than a normal viewer as I watch this between traffic at work (security guard at a gated community) but I'm sure other people wouldn't complain loudly.
As a whole I'm impressed with the quality of the videos and the instructors and Eat3d has earned a customer for as long as the continue to produce dvd's. I'll update this after I watch the remaining DVD's.
As for DVD's and Topics I'd like to see:
Advanced UDK Material Guide: Really taking a look at the more complicated shader set ups like Cell Shading. Widget functions like World Position Offset. Material functions based off Camera Distance. In Depth Vertex Blending. Custom widgets and basic math/functions to define them and some of the effects you could achieve and Material Arrays.
A Mudbox DVD.
A DVD, video or podcast? of the general Environment Art Production Pipeline, discussing limitations, general texture densities/limitations of a scene, etc.