In filmmaking, visual effects (abbreviated VFX) are the processes by which imagery is created or manipulated outside the context of a live action shot.
Visual effects involve the integration of live-action footage and generated imagery to create environments which look realistic, but would be dangerous, expensive, impractical, or impossible to capture on film. Visual effects using computer-generated imagery have recently become accessible to the independent filmmaker with the introduction of affordable and easy-to-use animation and compositing software.
Visual effects are often integral to a movie's story and appeal. Although most visual effects work is completed during post-production, it usually must be carefully planned and choreographed in pre-production and production. Visual effects primarily executed in Post-Production with the use of multiple tools and technologies such as graphic design, modeling, animation and similar software, while special effects such as explosions and car chases are made on set. A visual effects supervisor is usually involved with the production from an early stage to work closely with production and the film's director design, guide and lead the teams required to achieve the desired effects.
Visual effects may be divided into at least four categories:
- Matte paintings and stills: digital or traditional paintings or photographs which serve as background plates for 3D characters, particle effects, digital sets, backgrounds.
- Digital effects (commonly shortened to digital FX or FX) are the various processes by which imagery is created or manipulated with or from photographic assets. Digital effects often involve the integration of still photography and computer-generated imagery (CGI) to create environments which look realistic but would be dangerous, costly, or impossible to capture in camera. FX is usually associated with the still photography world in contrast to visual effects which is associated with motion film production.
VFX can be categorized into:
- The VES Handbook of Visual Effects: Industry Standard VFX Practices and Procedures, Jeffrey A. Okun & Susan Zwerman, Publisher: Focal Press 2010
- T. Porter and T. Duff, "Compositing Digital Images", Proceedings of SIGGRAPH '84, 18 (1984).
- The Art and Science of Digital Compositing (ISBN 0-12-133960-2)
- McClean, Shilo T. (2007). Digital Storytelling: The Narrative Power of Visual Effects in Film. The MIT Press. ISBN 0-262-13465-9.
- Mark Cotta Vaz; Craig Barron: The Invisible Art: The Legends of Movie Matte Painting. San Francisco, Cal.: Chronicle Books, 2002; ISBN 0-8118-3136-1
- Peter Ellenshaw; Ellenshaw Under Glass - Going to the Matte for Disney
- Richard Rickitt: Special Effects: The History and Technique. Billboard Books; 2nd edition, 2007; ISBN 0-8230-8408-6.
- Patel, Mayur (2009). The Digital Visual Effects Studio: The Artists and Their Work Revealed. ISBN 1-4486-6547-7.