Visual Effects (VFX) are when live action footage is combined with digital or optical effects. usually because the shot would be expensive, impractical or impossible to do on film.
In some cases the effects are obvious, such as the metal skeleton in Terminator, the robots in Transformers, or the slowed down bullets in The Matrix. Alternatively many VFX are purposely created to blend seamlessly with the live action footage. Many TV shows and movies use VFX to change road signs, add environments, hide wires and markers or even alter clocks and skies for continuity.
Eggbox Studios work often overlaps into VFX, even if it isn’t the intended purpose. Combining photographs with property CGI has led to combining drone footage with property CGI’s. Adding motion graphics to video is, in a basic form, VFX. As a result the transition into movie and TV VFX has been a natural one. Whether it’s standard video or 360 video the processes are very similar and require equal amounts of preparation and planning.
The video footage must be of high quality, well lit, with ample information to track within the scene. This is less relevant with static shots, however, it becomes essential with a moving camera and even more so with a moving subject and a moving camera.
Reference shots of the set can be very helpful when creating the CG elements and compositing them together. They can be used for lighting reference, reflections or just to work out how the shot was filmed.
Painting something green or blue isn’t always enough. A wrinkled green backdrop in harsh lighting will be very difficult to key out, it is essential to take time to light and prepare the set properly – it will be more expensive to “fix it in post”.
Sometimes practical effects can be cheaper and easier to work with, sometimes they won’t be. For any project requiring VFX it is important to consult with a VFX supervisor prior to, and during the shoot.
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