Compositing | Lighting Track

Essential training for artists focusing on the pivotal end-of-pipeline roles that define the final look and feel of a project

Courses start on Jul 11, 2020


Courses range from 6 to 10 weeks long


Basic understanding of 3D pipeline & Nuke or similar compositing program

Foundations & Design Program overview

Program Overview

Understand the role of a Lighter and Compositor

The fate of any production lies in the hands of its lighting and compositing artists. It’s here, in the final stages of the post-production pipeline, where all the pieces of the puzzle are finally brought together: from concept design, modelling, and shader work, through to animation, look development, and FX. In the right hands, lighting and compositing enhance everything that has come before, with carefully managed lighting bringing out the best in each frame and the compositing ensuring a seamless marriage of scene elements. Badly judged lighting or botched comp work, on the other hand, is something nobody forgets in a hurry. Developed and taught by mentors with extensive industry experience, our Lighting/Compositing Track features a trio of intensive classes that teach students the ins and outs of lighting and shading using physically-based raytrace renderer Arnold, how to harness industry standard node-based compositing tool Nuke, and also provide an introduction to the science, technology, and art of lighting for video games. Upon completion of courses in this track, students will be ready to pursue a career in lighting for fx, animation or games development, or in compositing for fx and animation work.

Enrolling into a CGMA Program is a simple and painless affair. Once you've decided on which program you want to complete, simply register and start taking the classes outlined in your program's block list. That's it!  On average, we recommend 1-to-2 courses per term. Additionally, you only pay for the course(s) you take in a given term (so no need to pay for an entire program upfront). And, after completing all the block-courses in a given program, you will be awarded a Program Certificate of Completion.

The role of Lighting Artist/Technical Director exists across the visual effects, animation, and video games industries and is one that demands strong artistic abilities alongside a good amount of technical knowledge. For, while the work notionally involves the wrangling of geometry, lighting/color reference, HDRI maps and shader settings, this is really a role more concerned with artistic direction - balancing, accenting and enhancing the lighting in each frame for the optimum visual result.

The Compositing Artist, meanwhile, works at the very end of the fx/animation pipeline, combining every disparate digital and (if appropriate) practically filmed element into one virtual space, and - crucially - striving to make the entire process invisible to the viewer.

Prerequisites Basic understanding of 3D pipeline & Nuke or similar compositing program

Animation & FX (Effects)

Animation & FX (Effects)

In the standard visual effects pipeline, it’s the principle Animation Department that takes the work of the Modeling and Rigging Departments (along with any appropriate tracking and matchmove data) and then sets about bringing it to life. Typically working with medium-resolution model views in 3D tools such as Maya, the animation team creates, critiques, and refines the performance of CG characters and any other rig-based objects. The FX (Effects) Department handles anything that relies on simulation to generate the animation data. This workload is typically focused around particles, rigid body dynamics, and fluid simulations, and may draw upon the work of both the Animation and Tracking/Matchmove Departments in order to integrate the FX work with both live and hand-animated elements.
Lighting & Rendering

Lighting & Rendering

The lighting and rendering stage sees lighting artists/TDs place and tweak CG lights, and also adjust shaders where necessary to enhance the atmosphere and bring a dynamic, coherent, and cohesive look to each frame and shot. Whether the aim is for something photoreal or stylized, and whether for film FX, animation, or gaming, the role involves a good degree of nuance and art direction. When it comes to video game lighting, artists must work with limited light source and shader resources as they work to enhance the look of open worlds, levels, and cut scenes through the use of dynamic and pre-canned lighting along with various post-processing and rendering effects.


Compositing is the final process in the entire effects and animation pipeline (there is no equivalent in games development), and involves piecing every CG and live plate element together to create something that looks as though it was all shot (or rendered) together. It’s a process that has evolved immeasurably over the last few years. Compositors now generally favor procedural, node-based tools over more traditional layer-based applications and employ a range of both 2D and 3D techniques in order in order to build the final composites, ready for approval and final sign-off.

Foundations & Design CURRICULUM


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