Visual Effects (VFX) : Everything You Need To Know  

VFX which is the short form for Visual effects, we also take it as Visual FX. The imaginary world, unbelievable stunts, giant creatures that don’t exist, and all that we see in movies, video games, or commercials are made possible with the help of VFX. VFX goes beyond your expectations and makes the impossible possible.

In short, VFX is a process of adding visual elements to the live-action footage which is not possible to capture while taking the live shot. Let’s learn more about VFX, its type, and the software required.

Visual Effects (VFX): Everything You Need To Know

  1. What is VFX?
  2. Types of VFX
  3. Common VFX Software
  4. How does VFX Differ from Special Effects?
  5. VFX Examples in Movies

What is VFX?

VFX or Visual effects have been used by the entertainment media for long. It has gained popularity among movie makers since it allows them to be more creative. Today almost every movie makes use of VFX to make the fake scene look more realistic or at least believable.

VFX refers to effects that we see on screen and are digital manipulation of images or live-action footage done with the help of the computer. Usually, there are three main types of VFX that we will learn in the section ahead.

Types of VFX (Visual Effects)

If you are willing to add visual effects to your work then we recommend you few basic types of adding VFX to your work.


CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) is the technique of generating images using the computer only. Any visual effect is added to your work only using the computer.  With the help of CGI, the designers generate 2D or 3D images. The 3D images help in achieving the best visual impact. The creation of CGI involves a long process where some of the technical and most creative function takes place at each department.

  • The first step is to bring the director’s vision to life. So, the artist plays around with the shapes to create 2D and 3D models.CGI
  • Once the model is created the asset department adds texture to your model where they start appearing more realistic.
  • Next in the animation department, the artist works on the model’s movements. Here, the key movements of the model are created and a transition of the model between these movements is created.
  • Now your character is put into action and tested whether it is moving as you want. If not, its key movements are again altered and again the testing is performed.
  • Finally, the background, lighting, and other visual effects are added to the created character. Everything may not go perfectly at first. The things are tested and altered until the perfect animation is achieved


Composting techniques combine two or more images or footage to generate the appearance of one shot. The most common form of composting used by filmmakers is chroma key compositing more commonly known by the name of green screen shoot.

Green Screen VFX

In this process, the actors are asked to perform scenes in front of the green or blue screen. In the post-production process, the composting artist replaces this solid color with the secondary footage. The finished work looks like both the footage was shot at once.

Motion Capture

In motion capture technology, the actors shoot the particular sequence wearing motion capture suit which is covered with sensors all around. This suit captures the weight, movement, and physicality of the actor’s body.Motion Capture Visual Effects

Along with the motion capture suits the actor also has to wear a head-mounted camera which is planted to capture the facial expression of the actor.

All the data that a motion capture suit collect is compiled and crafted on the digitally created character. For example, the motions and the expressions of the actor Sam Worthington were crafted on a digitally created character Jake Sully in the Avatar movie.

Matte Painting

In matte painting the scene is shot against the digitally painted background and later actors and props are inserted. It’s much closer to a form of compositing. A recent example of using matte painting for VFX is “Games of Thrones”. In “Games of Thrones” often matte paintings are used to create large-scale fantasy sets.

Common VFX Software

  • Adobe After Effects
  • Maxon Cinema 4D
  • Autodesk Maya
  • DaVinci Resolve
  • 3Ds Max
  • Houdini
  • HitFilm Pro
  • Mocha
  • Nuke

How do Visual Effects Differ from Special Effects?

Special effects are effects produced in real life and captured on camera. For example, a difficult scene performed by the body Special Effects of the actor, or stuntman, or filming the explosion or firework live.  Thus, special effects are effects that are performed and captured in real life.

However, VFX is the effect digitally added to the live-action footage in the postproduction process.

VFX Examples in Movies

VFX in movies is described as a process that VFX artists use to alter or enhance a film’s visuals to attain more realism. Although VFX was used for a very long time in movies but movies like Life of a Pi, and Avatar.

CGI Characters Jake Sully in Avatar, Dobby of Harry Potter, and Smaug in Hobbit are some excellent characters that can make your heart race.

VFX allows making actors look thinner, taller, and younger with the help of CGI. Over the years the use of VFX has exponentially grown due to technological advances.

Although VFX has been in use since the late 60s the movies like Jurassic Park, and King Kong made it popular among filmmakers. The future of VFX in movies is still a topic of debate.

Some filmmakers and audiences are still of the view that the focus should be less on big-budget production and more on small-scale movies with excellent performance. However, some argue that VFX provides creative liberty to the directors to make the unrealistic world look more realistic and make the film believable and interesting. Thus, the future of VFX is uncertain.

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