Visual Effects for Film

VFX is a tool for your story telling~

3D process 02 – where the magic happens but without the magic button

In this post, we’ll continue to talk about the process of 3D making including lighting, rendering and final compositing. Although compositing is not really a part of 3D process, but it’s a very important step where all the 3D elements been put together. So we’ll briefly introduce the concept of compositing here. For other compositing purpose such as keying, roto and wire removal, please check out our other posts.

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3D process 01- where the magic happens but without the magic button

You hear this term “3D” all the time. You also might think that all the films with something impossible is all made in 3D. But what does 3D really mean? The easiest way to understand this is to think of a painting versus a sculpture. If you’re standing right in the front of a painting or a picture, you might think this looks really real. But once you look from the side or from the back, it’s just a flat piece of paper. A sculpture on the other hand, you can observe it from any angle. This is the same in the digital world. A 2D matte painting or projection technique is only good from the chosen angle. But a 3D object can be viewed from everywhere. So if a robot or dinosaur is needed in your film for several shots with different angles, it’s better to approach with 3D. But in the 3D world, there is no magic button to make this happened with one click. Quite the opposite, the artists will have to create every single detail that happens in the real world, such as reflections, shadows, and even the intensity of the shadow or the blurry edge of the shadow. Therefore before jumping in and doing everything with 3D, which needs a lot more time and budget, it’s better to consult with the VFX supervisor to make sure the 3D approach is necessary here. In this post, we are going to talk about a simplified 3D process to give you a rough concept of how 3D works.

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Roto101 – How to separate what you want when you don’t have green screen

In the last post, we talked about when you have something/someone you want to keep but something you don’t want, you put a green/blue screen to cover what you don’t want. You have to keep what you want in the range of green/blue screen so the vfx artists can use some keying tools to get rid the green/blue screen and then replace it with something else. But what if for some reasons you didn’t use a green/blue screen when you shot and now you change your mind and want to replace something in the shot? Or what if the actor moved too big of a range and some part of him was out of the green/blue screen and you didn’t notice? This is where roto is needed.

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VFX shots in your movie trailer can increase ticket sales

For all the filmmakers, the bottom line goal is get people to watch your film. Investors(production companies) make an investment in the films they think a lot of people will like to watch. People want to watch a film that everybody watched and talked about. The question now becomes how to get people to watch your film? Just try to think of few examples from your own experience, you can find out the reasons you go watch a film usually are: the actors, directors you like, the story sounds interesting, the images look cool. Where do you get the ideas about the actors, director, story and images? Most commonly from the trailer.

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Why use a green/blue screen? The concept of “keying”.

For most people, when they think about shooting for visual effects, they think about green/blue screen. Why use a green/blue screen and how does it work? In this post, we are going to talk about the reasons for use green/blue screen and what visual effects artists have to do after receiving this green/blue screen footage. For this post we will give you just a basic concept of blue/green screen, and we’ll go further into detail in later posts.

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The process of VFX in film

Find your crew, start shooting, finish editing, then comes visual effects, right? If you use this process, you’re not only putting yourself at risk of not being able to finish your vfx, but you might also be missing a lot opportunities for better vfx solutions for your film. Here we are going to talk about a good process for maximizing your VFX in film.

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What is Matte Painting?

Matte painting is one of the oldest techniques in the visual effects industry and one of the most widely applied techniques as well. The concept of matte painting is simple: “Use one or few paintings to replace a background.” Although the concept is so simple, but the technique of matte painting is quite skillful and artistically demanding because the paintings used to replace background have to be realistic enough and support the film style so the audiences can think it’s a real background. Read more of this post

Case Study: Magic World II Online commercial

In this case study, we are going to check out one of LightRay’s commercial project,”Magic World”. Directed by Lester Shih and VFX produced by L Motion Design Studio. This is a commercial for a new game “Magic World II Online”. The concept for this commercial is to show the beautiful women warriors from different realms gathering to fight the dark lord. Let’s take a look of the commercial first.

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How VFX can save you time and money

Many filmmakers think visual effects are a luxury reserved only for those big budget blockbuster films. This is not the case, vfx is not just about robots and dinosaurs.(See the previous post on “What VFX can do?”) With various vfx techniques today, visual effects could be a great tool not only for telling the story but also for saving you time and money. Here I’m are going to list a few situations where vfx can save you time and money.

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The benefits of having a VFX consultant early in development

People often think visual effects is part of post production and you don’t need vfx involved until after the editing is finished. The reality is quite the opposite, VFX should be one the first in and last out in the film process.
In this article, I’m going to explain why you should have a vfx consultant on board as early as you have the script and the benefits you will gain from doing this.

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What VFX can do?-Part 4: compositing

Most people think that vfx is the same as 3D animation. But the truth is compositing, which is in the 2D department, is the most common vfx. This technique is applied in almost every film. If the shot has 3D objects, compositing is the last step to put all the elements together. In many cases, compositors have to key all the green/blue screen, sometimes do the tracking, get all the different 3D elements from other team members, put those together and do all the necessary fixing and adjustments. This article will discuss what compositing can do.

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What VFX can do?-Part 3: special effects

This is the part of visual effects that most people can recognize. It could be some laser light beam, energy waves, or time traveling magic waves and Si-fi style effects. Or it could be a natural force but difficult and dangerous to film. Such as tornado, earthquake, tsunami, ground or walls spliting open, explosion or fire.

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What VFX can do?-Part 2:Environments

Ok~let’s move on to talking about environments. This is probably most used vfx in films. For environment visual effects, there are several different techniques. We can build full 3D environment, matte painting, or projection matte painting to 3D. It all depends on how the camera is moving and how many times and different angles we need for the environment. We’ll leave the details of the techniques to later. Now we’re just going to get a concept about what VFX can do for your film as digital environments.

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What VFX can do?–Part 1: Creatures

We talked about what is vfx and the reason we apply these techniques in films. Now let’s dive a bit deeper into the different kind of vfx in film.

Visual effects can create various creatures, environments or special effects such as fire, tornado, lightning and so on. Other important roles of VFX are correct mistakes, clean up and color correction. Let’s talk about creatures in this post. For environments, special effects and more, please check out the next few articles.

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What is visual effects?

You might have seen films with heavy visual effects and heard people say “The visual effects were amazing!”, but what exactly are visual effects and how do they work? In this post, I’m going to give you a rough overview of the possibilities that visual effects can offer, then we’ll go into more detail in the next posts.

According to VES handbook:
Visual effects (commonly shortened to Visual FX or VFX) is the term used to describe any imagery created, altered, or enhanced for a film or other moving media that cannot be accomplished during live-action shooting. In other words, much of the art of visual effects takes place in post-production, after primary image capture is complete. Visual effects can be added to live-action, captured through techniques such as matte painting; rear- and front-screen projection; miniature or forced perspective sets; computer graphic objects, characters, and environments; and compositing of images recorded in any number of ways. The recent explosion in digital tools that make flawless compositing, digital sets, and fully computer-generated characters possible and accessible to moving image makers at all levels has made visual effects a standard part of every moving image maker’s tool kit.

Wikipedia says:
Visual effects involve the integration of live-action footage and generated imagery to create environments which look realistic, but would be dangerous, costly, or simply impossible to capture on film. Visual effects using computer generated imagery  has recently become accessible to the Independent filmmaker with the introduction of affordable animation and compositing software.

So basically, anything that’s difficult to film then we use visual effects to achieve it. For example, aliens attacking the earth is impossible to film so we use visual effects for all the alien creatures to destroy the city. This is a very obviously example of visual effects. A lot of time we use visual effects in more subtle areas. For example, if there’s a scene in the story that needs to be in another country, an imaginary location or a city in the future/past. It’s just inefficiency to go to another country or build a set. Visual effects in these situation are really helpful.

A lot of visual effects examples will be discussed in the future posts. Here we just need to have a rough concept of what visual effects is about and why we use it for films. We hope you enjoyed this post and please feel free to leave us any comments.