Visual effects

Visual effects (abbreviated VFX) is the process by which imagery is created or manipulated outside the context of a live action shot in film making.

Visual effects involve the integration of live-action footage (special effects) and generated imagery (digital effects) to create environments which look realistic, but would be dangerous, expensive, impractical, time consuming or impossible to capture on film. Visual effects using computer-generated imagery (CGI) have recently become accessible to the independent filmmaker with the introduction of affordable and easy-to-use animation and compositing software.

Timing

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.

Many studios are specialized in the field of visual effects areas, among which: Digital Domain, DreamWorks Animation, Framestore, Weta Digital, Industrial Light & Magic, Pixomondo and Moving Picture Company.

Categories

Visual effects primarily divides into two groups of:

  1. Special effects: It covers any visual effects that take place in live action, e.g. on set explosions or stunt performances.
  2. Digital effects (commonly shortened to digital FX or FX): It covers 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. Digital FX also divides into different subgroups of professions such as:
  • Matte paintings and stills: digital or traditional paintings or photographs which serve as background plates for 3D characters, particle effects, digital sets, backgrounds.
  • Motion capture (Mo-Cap for short): The process of recording the movements of objects and or people. In a session of motion capture, the subject whose motion is being captured is recorded and sampled many times per second by different scanners placed all over the environment. There are different types of systems that read the actor's movement. One of which is the optical method that uses tracking cameras that lock onto specialized markers placed over the actor's motion capture suit. The other type of method is called the non-optical method where instead of capturing the markers location in space, it recorders and measures the inertia and mechanical motion in the area. This type of motion capture doesn’t just apply to the body, but can be used to track the facial movements and expressions of an actor and transfer them to a 3d model later on in the pipeline. The same type of concept of using markers to track motion is used, but more often than not, the actor's face will have painted dots on their face rather than ball shaped markers. Not only is the actor's movements recorded in this process, but the movement of the camera is also recorded, which allows editors to use this data to enhance the environment the motion captured set is imagined in. Once all of this is captured, the motion captured data is mapped to a virtual skeleton using software such as Autodesk's MotionBuilder or other software of choice.
  • Modelling: Creating 3D models of props or characters using specialised software.
  • Animation: Assign movements for any objects and characters in 2D or 3D.
  • Compositing: Combining visual elements from different sources to create the illusion that all those elements are parts of the same scene.

Types

VFX can be categorized into:

See also

Further reading

  • 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.

External links

Academy Award for Best Visual Effects

The Academy Award for Best Visual Effects is an Academy Award given for the best achievement in visual effects.

BAFTA Award for Best Special Visual Effects

This is a list of winners and nominees for the BAFTA Award for Best Special Visual Effects for each year. This award is for special effects and visual effects and recognises achievement in both of these crafts. The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) is a British organisation that hosts annual awards shows for movies, television, children's movies and television, and interactive media.

Blue Sky Studios

Blue Sky Studios, Inc. is an American computer animation film studio based in Greenwich, Connecticut. It is a subsidiary of 20th Century Fox Animation, and a division of Walt Disney Studios, owned by The Walt Disney Company. The studio was founded in 1987 by Chris Wedge, Michael Ferraro, Carl Ludwig, Alison Brown, David Brown, and Eugene Troubetzkoy after the company they worked in, MAGI, one of the visual effects studios behind Tron, shut down. Using its in-house rendering software, the studio had worked on visual effects for commercials and films before completely dedicating itself to animated film production in 2002 starting with the release of Ice Age by 20th Century Fox.

Ice Age and Rio are the studio's most successful franchises, while Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who! and The Peanuts Movie are its most critically praised films. As of 2013, Scrat, a character from the Ice Age films, is the studio's mascot.

Chris Lawrence (visual effects)

Chris Lawrence is a visual effects supervisor. Lawrence and his fellow visual effects artists received an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects for the 2013 film, Gravity. In 2016,

Lawrence received his second Academy Award nomination for his work on the film, The Martian, at the 88th Academy Awards. In 2018, he received his third Academy Award nomination for his work on the film, Christopher Robin, at the 91st Academy Awards.

Forrest Gump

Forrest Gump is a 1994 American comedy-drama film based on the 1986 novel of the same name by Winston Groom. It was directed by Robert Zemeckis and written by Eric Roth. The film stars Tom Hanks, Robin Wright, Gary Sinise, Mykelti Williamson, and Sally Field. The story depicts several decades in the life of Forrest Gump (Hanks), a slow-witted but kind-hearted man from Alabama who witnesses and, unwittingly, influences several defining historical events in the 20th century in the United States.

The film differs substantially from the novel. Principal photography took place in late 1993, mainly in Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Extensive visual effects were used to incorporate Hanks into archived footage and develop other scenes. The soundtrack features songs reflecting the different periods seen in the film.

Released in the United States on July 6, 1994, Forrest Gump received favorable reviews for Zemeckis' directing, Hanks' performance, visual effects, and script. The film was an enormous success at the box office; it became the top-grossing film in North America released that year and earned over US$677 million worldwide during its theatrical run, making it the second highest-grossing film of 1994. The soundtrack sold over 12 million copies. Forrest Gump won the Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor for Hanks, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Visual Effects, and Best Film Editing. It won many other awards and nominations, including Golden Globes, People's Choice Awards, and Young Artist Awards.

Varying interpretations have been made of the protagonist and the film's political symbolism. In 1996, a restaurant based on the film, Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, opened, and has since expanded to locations worldwide. In 2011, the Library of Congress selected the film for preservation in the United States National Film Registry as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

Jim Henson's Creature Shop

Jim Henson's Creature Shop is a special/visual effects company founded in 1979 by puppeteer Jim Henson, creator of The Muppets. The company is based out of Hollywood, California, United States, and then Camden Town in London, United Kingdom.

Joe Johnston

Joseph Eggleston Johnston II (born May 13, 1950) is an American film director and former effects artist best known for such effects-driven movies as Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989), Jumanji (1995) and Jurassic Park III (2001). These movies include a number of period films such as The Rocketeer (1991), The Wolfman (2010), and Captain America: The First Avenger (2011). Johnston also directed the biographical drama October Sky (1999).

Joe Letteri

Joe Letteri, ONZM (born 1957) is a senior visual effects artist, winner of four Academy Awards, four BAFTA awards and four VES awards. He is the current Director of the Academy Award-winning Weta Digital, having joined the company in 2001. He has received several awards and nominations as visual effects supervisor, the latest (as of January 2018) being War for the Planet of the Apes. He attended Center High School (Pennsylvania) in 1975 and graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 1981. He gave the keynote address at UC Berkeley's December Convocation on 19 December 2010.

John Knoll

John Knoll (born October 6, 1962) is an American visual effects supervisor and chief creative officer (CCO) at Industrial Light & Magic (ILM). One of the original creators of Adobe Photoshop (along with his brother, Thomas Knoll), he has also worked as visual effects supervisor on the Star Wars prequels and the 1997 special editions of the original trilogy. He also served as ILM's visual effects supervisor for Star Trek Generations and Star Trek: First Contact, as well as the Pirates of the Caribbean series. Along with Hal Hickel, Charles Gibson and Allen Hall, Knoll and the trio's work on Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest earned them the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects.Knoll has been praised by directors James Cameron, Gore Verbinski, Guillermo del Toro, and Brad Bird. Del Toro, who worked with Knoll for the first time on Pacific Rim, stated "He basically has the heart of a kid and the mind of a scientist, and that's a great combination."Knoll is also the inventor of Knoll Light Factory, a lens flare generating software inspired by his work at Industrial Light and Magic.Knoll was the Computer Graphics Project Designer on The Abyss, an achievement which earned ILM its tenth Academy Award for Visual Effects, and worked on two Star Trek episodes: Star Trek: The Next Generation's pilot episode ("Encounter at Farpoint") and the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Explorers".

Knoll had a cameo appearance in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace as a fighter pilot.John Knoll helped pitch the story of Rogue One, a feature film set in the Star Wars series, and worked as writer and executive producer of the film.

Ken Ralston

Kenneth "Ken" Ralston (born 1954) is an American visual effects artist, currently the Visual Effect Supervisor and Creative Head at Sony Pictures Imageworks. Ralston began his career at the seminal commercial animation and visual effects company, Cascade Pictures in Hollywood, where he worked on over 150 advertising campaigns in the early 1970s. In 1976, he was hired at Industrial Light & Magic by Dennis Muren to help George Lucas create the effects for Star Wars. He remained in ILM for 20 years before joining Sony Pictures Imageworks as president. Ralston is best known for his work in the films of Robert Zemeckis.Ralston has won five Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, including a Special Achievement Oscar for the visual effects in Return of the Jedi (1983), and regular awards for his work on Cocoon (1985), Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), Death Becomes Her (1992) and Forrest Gump (1994). He was nominated three more times for Dragonslayer (1981), Back to the Future Part II (1989) and Alice in Wonderland (2010).

Ken has contributed to several DVD commentaries -

King Kong (1933) - with visual effects creator Ray Harryhausen

Mighty Joe Young (1949) - with visual effects creator Ray Harryhausen and actress Terry Moore

Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) - with director Robert Zemeckis, producer Frank Marshall, associate producer Steve Starkey, screenwriters Jeffrey Price and Peter Seaman

Contact (1997) - with visual effects supervisor Stephen Rosenbaum

Cast Away (2000) - with cinematographer Don Burgess, visual effects supervisor Carey Villegas, sound designer Randy Thom

Paul Franklin (visual effects supervisor)

Paul J. Franklin is an English visual effects supervisor who has worked with visual effects since the 1990s. Franklin won the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects and the BAFTA Award for Best Special Visual Effects for Inception (2010), and won a second Academy Award for Best Visual Effects for Interstellar (2014). He shared the wins with Andrew Lockley, Peter Bebb, and Chris Corbould. Franklin has also been nominated for an Academy Award for The Dark Knight (2008). He was nominated for BAFTA Awards for Batman Begins, The Dark Knight (2008), and The Dark Knight Rises (2012).

Rana Daggubati

Rana Daggubati (born 14 December 1984), is an Indian actor, producer, television personality, and visual effects co-ordinator known primarily for his work in Telugu cinema, as well as his works in Tamil cinema and Hindi cinema.In 2010, he made his acting debut with the Telugu blockbuster Leader, for which he won the Filmfare Award for Best Male Debut – South. He made his Hindi film debut with the hit film Dum Maaro Dum (2011), alongside Bipasha Basu, where he received positive reviews for his performance. In 2012, Rana gained prominence by starring in hit Telugu film Krishnam Vande Jagadgurum. In 2015, he played a notable supporting role in the successful Hindi film Baby (2015). He later starred as the main antagonist in Telugu and Tamil bilingual Baahubali: The Beginning (2015), which recorded the second highest gross opening for an Indian film. He then featured in a supporting role in Tamil film Bangalore Naatkal (2016). In 2017, Rana later reprised his role as Bhallaldeva in Baahubali 2: The Conclusion, which became the highest grossing Indian film of all time.

He has also simultaneously starred in the successful Telugu movies Rudramadevi (2015), The Ghazi Attack (2017), and Nene Raju Nene Mantri (2017).

As a Visual Effects producer, Rana won the State Nandi Award for Best Special Effects in 2006 for the Telugu film Sainikudu. In 2006, he received the National Film Award for co-producing Bommalata – A Bellyful of Dreams.Rana is also an established television personality, as he hosted award shows such as the 2nd IIFA Utsavam, the 2nd South Indian International Movie Awards and he currently hosts his own celebrity talk show, No. 1 Yaari, which brought celebrities such as Vijay Deverakonda, S.S. Rajamouli, Nani, Kajal Aggarwal, Naga Chaitanya, Tamannaah, Rakul Preet Singh, Ram Pothineni, Navdeep, Nikhil Siddharth, and others.

Rana has established himself as one of the leading actors in Telugu cinema, as well as being described as one of the few actors in India who were able to achieve pan-Indian appeal, having taken up a variety of roles, from leading roles to supporting characters, in different languages as well.

Sony Pictures Imageworks

Sony Pictures Imageworks Inc. is a Canadian visual effects and computer animation company headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia, with an additional office in Culver City, California. SPI is a unit of Sony Pictures Entertainment's Motion Picture Group.The company has been recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences with Oscars for their work on Spider-Man 2 and the computer-animated short film The ChubbChubbs!, and received many other nominations for their work.

SPI has provided visual effects for many films; most recent include Spider-Man: Homecoming, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, and The Meg. They also provided services for several of director Robert Zemeckis' films, including Contact, Cast Away, The Polar Express, and Beowulf.

Since the foundation of its sister company Sony Pictures Animation in 2002, SPI would go on to animate nearly all of SPA's films, including Open Season, Surf's Up, The Emoji Movie, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and films in the Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Smurfs and Hotel Transylvania franchises, in addition to animating films for other studios such as Arthur Christmas for Aardman Animations (co-produced by SPA), Storks and Smallfoot for the Warner Animation Group, and The Angry Birds Movie and its sequel for Rovio Animation.

Special effect

Special effects (often abbreviated as SFX, SPFX, or simply FX) are illusions or visual tricks used in the film, television, theatre, video game and simulator industries to simulate the imagined events in a story or virtual world.

Special effects are traditionally divided into the categories of mechanical effects and optical effects. With the emergence of digital film-making a distinction between special effects and visual effects has grown, with the latter referring to digital post-production while "special effects" referring to mechanical and optical effects.

Mechanical effects (also called practical or physical effects) are usually accomplished during the live-action shooting. This includes the use of mechanized props, scenery, scale models, animatronics, pyrotechnics and atmospheric effects: creating physical wind, rain, fog, snow, clouds, making a car appear to drive by itself and blowing up a building, etc. Mechanical effects are also often incorporated into set design and makeup. For example, a set may be built with break-away doors or walls to enhance a fight scene, or prosthetic makeup can be used to make an actor look like a non-human creature.

Optical effects (also called photographic effects) are techniques in which images or film frames are created photographically, either "in-camera" using multiple exposure, mattes or the Schüfftan process or in post-production using an optical printer. An optical effect might be used to place actors or sets against a different background.

Since the 1990s, computer-generated imagery (CGI) has come to the forefront of special effects technologies. It gives filmmakers greater control, and allows many effects to be accomplished more safely and convincingly and—as technology improves—at lower costs. As a result, many optical and mechanical effects techniques have been superseded by CGI.

Spider-Man 2

Spider-Man 2 is a 2004 American superhero film directed by Sam Raimi and written by Alvin Sargent from a story by Alfred Gough, Miles Millar and Michael Chabon. A sequel to the 2002 film Spider-Man, it is the second installment in the Spider-Man trilogy based on the fictional Marvel Comics character of the same name. Tobey Maguire stars as Peter Parker / Spider-Man, alongside Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Alfred Molina, Rosemary Harris, and Donna Murphy.

Set two years after the events of Spider-Man, the film finds Peter Parker struggling to manage both his personal life and his duties as Spider-Man, which affects his civilian life dramatically. Meanwhile, Dr. Otto Octavius becomes a diabolical villain after a failed experiment kills his wife and leaves him neurologically fused to mechanical tentacles. Spider-Man must stop him from successfully recreating the experiment, which threatens to destroy the city, while dealing with a subconscious desire to stop being Spider-Man that is stripping him of his powers.

Principal photography began in April 2003 in New York City and also took place in Los Angeles. Spider-Man 2 was released in both conventional and IMAX theaters on June 30, 2004 and grossed $783 million worldwide, becoming the third highest-grossing film of the year. It won the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects and was also nominated for Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Editing; it also received five awards at the Saturn Awards, including Best Fantasy Film and Best Director for Raimi. It is considered as one of the most influential and best superhero films of all-time. Its success led to Spider-Man 3 (2007).

Tim Burke (visual effects supervisor)

Tim Burke is a visual effects supervisor. He has worked on several films and TV shows, such as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 and Doctor Who.

Visual Effects Society

The Visual Effects Society (VES) is the entertainment industry's only organization representing the full breadth of visual effects practitioners including artists, animators, technologists, model makers, educators, studio leaders, supervisors, PR/marketing specialists and producers in all areas of entertainment from film, television and commercials to music videos and games.

Consisting of a diverse group of over 3,700 members in more than 35 countries.The Visual Effects Society is a professional, honorary society and

Members are more than 3,300 artists, technologists and practitioners in the visual effects field

Represented in 30 countries, including United States, Canada, Mexico, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Turkey, India, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, and Brazil

Produces the VES Awards Gala (February), Production Summit (October) and more than 25 educational events, reaching an international audience of 10,000+ annually.

Nearly 50% of VES members are freelancers or independent contractors

Membership currently consists of 20% women.

VES members have garnered over a hundred Oscar and Emmy awards

More than 2/3 of members have 11+ years in the visual effects field

VES Membership requires at least five years of full-time production experience as a visual effects professional and the endorsement of two Visual Effects Society members, or having received one of the industry's top honors.

VES circulates news and information to the international audience of over 10,000.

Publishes the quarterly visual effects magazine, VFX Voice.

Visual effects supervisor

In the context of film and television production, a visual effects supervisor is responsible for achieving the creative aims of the director or producers through the use of visual effects.While it is a creative role, most supervisors possess a strong technical background and are capable of making informed decisions about the most efficient and effective technique to employ to solve the problem at hand. Often a supervisor will work in tandem with a visual effects producer and computer graphics supervisor.

Supervisors can be employed directly by a film production company or work for a visual effects company. Often there are several VFX supervisors on a project, although there is typically a senior VFX supervisor directing their efforts.

Specific responsibilities vary somewhat depending on the nature of the production, however most supervisors:

Handle a VFX project from conception through to completion

Manage and direct the technical, artistic, and production personnel

Possess a knowledge of various visual effects techniques with emphasis on camera set-ups and film knowledge with an eye for composition and camera work.

Accurately predict timing and associated costs of project

Collaborate on the bidding and negotiation processesThe Visual Effects Society is a prominent trade organization representing the interests of visual effects professionals.

Weta Digital

Weta Digital is a digital visual effects company based in Wellington, New Zealand. It was founded by Peter Jackson, Richard Taylor, and Jamie Selkirk in 1993 to produce the digital special effects for Heavenly Creatures. In 2007, Weta Digital’s Senior Visual Effects Supervisor, Joe Letteri, was also appointed as a Director of the company. Weta Digital has won several Academy Awards and BAFTAs.Weta Digital is part of a number of Peter Jackson's co-owned companies in Wellington which includes Weta Workshop, Weta Productions, Weta Collectibles and Park Road Post Production.

The company is named after the New Zealand weta, one of the world's largest insects.

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