Visual effects (commonly shortened to Visual F/X or VFX) are the various processes by which imagery is created and/or manipulated outside the context of a live action shoot. Visual effects often involve the integration of live-action footage and computer generated imagery (CGI) in order to create environments which look realistic, but would be dangerous, costly, or simply impossible to capture on film. They have become increasingly common in big-budget films, and have also recently become accessible to the amateur filmmaker with the introduction of affordable animation and compositing software.
Visual effects are frequently 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. A visual effects supervisor is usually involved with the production from an early stage to work closely with production and the film's director to achieve the desired effects.
Visual effects may be divided into at least four categories:
- Models: miniature sets and models, animatronics.
- Matte paintings and stills: digital or traditional paintings or photographs which serve as background plates for keyed or rotoscoped elements.
- Live-action effects: keying actors or models through bluescreening and greenscreening.
- Digital animation: modeling, computer graphics lighting, texturing, rigging, animating, and rendering computer-generated 3D characters, particle effects, digital sets, backgrounds.
- Computer-generated imagery
- 3D computer graphics
- Matte painting
- Physical effects — another category of special effects
- Front projection effect
- Rear projection effect
- Take Five Minutes to Watch 100 Years of Visual Effects by Rosa Golijan - Gizmodo.com - August 27, 2009