Studying Online at CG Pro

Studying Online at CG Pro

Z Tennyson and Ian Hill, students at CG Pro, the premier online virtual production school and EPIC GAMES training center, highlight its cutting-edge curriculum and personalized mentorship, making it the top choice for practical learning and industry connections.

In this article, Z Tennyson and Ian Hill, students from CG Pro, the premier online virtual production school and the only premier authorised EPIC GAMES training center in the US, share their insights and experiences. CG Pro stands out for its cutting-edge curriculum and hands-on instruction, delivered through small and intimate cohorts. Both Z and Ian chose CG Pro for its practical learning experience, personalised mentorship, and industry connections. Read on to learn more about studying at CG Pro!

Can you introduce your school to us and share what makes it special from your perspective?

Z Tennyson: I studied at CG Pro - the premier online virtual production school and currently the only premier authorised EPIC GAMES training center in the US.

Ian Hill: The school I attended was CG Pro, a specialty school offering a variety of curriculum applying cutting edge tools and software packages to artistic development with a strong focus on virtual production.  I found the school over the internet and conducted my studies, with Cohort 17, in late 2023. The school distinguishes itself by having cohorts that are small and intimate, and there is extensive hands-on instruction from the school’s founder as well as peer learning with other cohort members.  In addition, the founders have connections within the industry and support their students both within the course and after its completion.

What made you choose this school over others?

Z Tennyson: Eddie and Jackie, the founders, have an extensive resume when it comes to Virtual Production for big budget and they have put together an incredible team to serve as the foundation of CG Pro. The result is a practical learning experience that is completely different from any other programs I've done in this field. Hands down CG Pro is the best online school I've ever had the opportunity to participate in.

Student work by Z Tennyson

Ian: As a part of the admissions/ advisory process, I had the opportunity to have a one-on-one with one of the school's founders. Though I was expecting to discuss the technical skills that I may learn and what program would be best for me, we primarily talked about big life decisions and how to confidently move forward into a new field. I felt that this was the type of institution that would not only teach me the skills I needed but help me organise and apply those skills to propel my move into a new career.

What kinds of help were available to you? Any 1:1 interaction with teachers?

Z Tennyson: The agenda is packed with mentorship opportunities, mid-week extra classes, and additional tutorial videos recorded specifically by students' request. CG Pro excels in delivering a tailored educational experience and provides incredibly valuable targeted content that I now have lifetime access to. Many CG programs cut access after a year. This is not the case with CG Pro, and it makes all the difference once you enter the market.

Ian: The classes themselves are structured as virtual live classes. The small cohorts allow for these classes to be dynamic and address the specific interests of each student. There is a very active and supportive group for each cohort as well, where very specific questions can be brought to the attention of teachers and other students alike.

How are things different for you after the course?

Z Tennyson: The continued support from Edd, Jackie, and the crew, along with community interactions, has been invaluable. The ongoing learning experience from the team persists even after graduation, as I remain part of an alumni group with regular releases of quality content.

Ian: The course is enhanced by the participation of guest speakers from within the industry.  These offer not only valuable creative, and artistic, perspectives, but also create connections that can be continued after the course’s completion.

Student work by Ian Hill

In addition, the course not only advanced my technical, and artistic, capacity to achieve my goals, but also demonstrated the framework needed to visualize and organize projects, both personal and professional, at smaller as well as larger scales.

Did you ever need help from the instructors? How did that go?

Z Tennyson: Every week we run our project through mentors in 1-1 sessions that are off-class-time. These sessions are extra, and are recorded so everyone can watch everyone's sessions. I have numerous situations where I got specific support on the struggle I was facing. It is like having a mentor on a job. And, it does not happen during class time, which frees up time to make the class delivery consistent every week.

Ian: As the course was structured around a personal project there were numerous times when I would post WIP and get feedback on lighting, composition, and texturing. One specific example is when I was building a custom material for translucent cloth and one of the instructors (Daniel Langhjelm), provided me with numerous resources to learn how to build the material from the ground up, as well as some one-on-one support.

Thanks to CG pro’s support and mentorship, I am already taking part in a large project and building connections with industry professionals.  In addition, I am confident that the door will remain open to further support from the school.

How do you feel like CG Pro will help your career moving forward?

Z Tennyson: The alumni group holds live sessions with specialists weekly. The school also organises events, connects you with project opportunities and stimulates the participation of students in extracurricular activities like trade shows and events.

Ian: The Facebook group, which is unique to each cohort, is a very valuable resource for reaching teachers and students alike. The school also provided educational discounts to various tools and resources related to Unreal Engine, filmmaking, and 3d content generation. Also, as a graduate from CG Pro I was recommended by the institution to participate in, and apply my learned skills to, a real ICVFX production.

Student work by Ian Hill

Did the courses help you with any real-world skills?

Z Tennyson: During my time at the ICVFX program the school organised a one-day bootcamp at an LED volume studio in Los Angeles. It was an incredible experience where we all get to meet each other, and the mentors, in person and it gave me so much confidence to operate expensive technical gear.

Ian: After completion of the class I began working on an ICVFX production alongside other CG Pro graduates and teachers. As the VAD Department we had the opportunity to utilise our common workflow processes, as taught by CG Pro, and to have a practical opportunity to apply our technical and artistic skills, as well as augment these, in a cooperative work environment.

Have you had the opportunity to work with industry professionals or participate in real-world projects during your time at the school?

Z Tennyson: Yes, all mentors and TA's are industry professionals with outstanding resumes in the film and game industries.

Ian: Teachers and guest speakers are industry professionals and offer current insights into how learned materials are being applied in the real world.  Beyond the curriculum, as part of the school’s ethos, CG Pro faculty support student connectivity within the industry and open doors to collaboration on real world projects.

How does the art school promote diversity and inclusivity within its student community, and how has this enriched your educational experience?

Z Tennyson: CG Pro is a welcoming open environment. The classes are online and joined by people all over the globe.We are able to network in a wide range of markets and get to meet people from different cultural backgrounds.

Ian: Diversity and inclusivity are exemplified in CG Pro’s commitment to promoting educational opportunities for women and BIPOC community members as well as broadly advancing their work by supporting its visibility.  This outreach, and support, includes creatives who are not formal students at the school.

What are your future goals, and how do you feel your school has prepared you for them?

Z Tennyson: I'm currently at film school, doing a master degree at the London Film Academy, and my goal is to join a VFX studio after it. I want to work on big budget productions for a couple of years while writing and directing my own short films.

Student work by Z Tennyson

Ian: My future goals are to build a career in virtual production and film making. Thanks to CG pro’s support and mentorship, I am already taking part in a large project and building connections with industry professionals.  In addition, I am confident that the door will remain open to further support from the school.

Z Tennyson who loves painting with lights and shadows, transitioned from a career as a Silicon Valley UX Engineer to pursue his passion for light and magic. Formerly associated with Meta Reality Labs AR/VR, he delved into studying virtual production, VFX compositing, and Character Animation at leading CG schools. During his education, Z had the privilege of being mentored by esteemed artists from renowned studios such as Pixar, ILM, and DNEG, as well as individuals behind iconic productions like The Mandalorian, The Lion King, and Iron Man.

Ian Hill, a 3D generalist with a focus on procedural systems and asset creation, has a passion for world building and lighting. He has always been interested in working in a creative field and, after trying out various creative outlets over the years, noticed a tendency towards the technical side of those practices. Initially, Ian believed that his technical mindset was antithetical to creativity, but he has since realised the value of creatively using technical tools in various domains.