Visual Effects for Film

VFX is a tool for your story telling~

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.


Soon after getting greenlit, a VFX producer should be board. He or she will go through the script, give you a rough budget and schedule, and point out some problems you might have. This is the first step for vfx in your film making process.

During pre-production, the visual effects team will work on R&D, vfx concept design, and story board or 3D pre-visualizetion. The visual effects supervisor will work with the director for the vfx shot design. This step combines the director’s creativity with the vfx supervisor’s experience to make sure the director’s vision is doable in the budget and on schedule. They also go through how and when to shot the scenes and what props need to be prepared. Concept drawings, story-boards and 3D pre-vise will be used as a guide for preparing sets or props and as a reference for cinematographer and editor as well. The VFX team will also have to do some effects testing and R&D at this stage to make sure the ideas are possible.

During filming, the VFX supervisor will be on set to make sure the green screen is set right. If the green screen has bad lighting, it will make the VFX work in post more difficult and cost more time and money. There’s also a lot of data and information needed to be collected and recorded during shooting. Such as camera angle, camera lens, clean plate, HDRI and more. Those will help a lot in the post VFX process. At the same time, the VFX team are doing R&D creating any 3D models or start working on some of the full CG shots.

After the editing is finished is the time when the vfx team gets really busy. The shots that need vfx will be scanned (if it’s not digital), organized, sent to the vfx studio and assigned to the artists. 3D items such as creatures, vehicles, or environments (whether the environments should be matte paintings or 3D will be decided by VFX supervisor) will go through modeling, texturing/shading, binding/rigging, animating, lighting and rendering. Most plate elements will be tracked and keyed out of the green screen. Some backgrounds will be replace with matte paintings. Finally, the compositors will get all the elements from the 3D renders, matte paintings and keyed plates to do the final composite. A lot of plate clean up and fixing shooting mistakes will also be done by compositors.

From this simple introduction, I hope that you got an idea about the process of VFX in film. I’ll go more into detail to explain each step of VFX production in future posts and case studies or examples to help you learn more about VFX for film. In this post, I just hope filmmakers understand how important it is to include VFX in the early stage. Hope you enjoy it and please let us know your questions or commons.

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8 responses to “The process of VFX in film

  1. poaaoiom 2013/08/04 at 10:05 PM

    nice article.thank u

  2. Martin 2015/06/11 at 9:46 AM

    what happens if there is a 3D model involved? When is the best moment to start modeling?
    Besides thats, It is goog to know the steps and ordering from modeling to final integration with filming footage.
    Thank you!

    • LightRay FX 2015/06/20 at 7:53 AM

      Hi Martin, Thank you for visiting our blog. You asked about when to start 3D model and the answer is “it depends”. If the director want to see 3D pressurization, the modeling process might start even when the storyboard is developing. However, this stage the model stay really rough. The most common timing for modeling is after the concept design is lucked down. After all, the 3D artist will need a proved design to start his modeling work. This could be before filming, during filming, after filming or even after editing is done. It really depends on the schedule of the project.
      About the steps and ordering of VFX process, please check out our post 3D process01. We’ll have all the 3D process explained and post really soon. So stay tune~

      • Martin 2015/06/29 at 10:40 AM

        Thanks! 3D process01 is very useful! Please, Don’t stop to update the blog. 😀

      • LightRay FX 2015/07/01 at 12:06 AM

        Thanks, Martin. This blog is a combination of LightRay’s artists’contribution. We are recently under a huge wave work of work. But we’ll try to keep up providing useful information. Stay tuned~

  3. harsha 2016/03/22 at 8:50 AM

    thank you . it was helpful 🙂

  4. Karthi keyan 2016/06/04 at 4:48 PM

    Hi, I’m karthiyk and I’m starting my first vfx shot without any producer’s, I’m doing it with zero budget with my friends. I don’t no how to start, can you help me for this

    • LightRay FX 2016/06/15 at 3:22 AM

      Hi Karthiyk, Thank you for visiting our blog. Unfortunately, there is no easy or quick way to help you learn how to do a vfx shot. Every shot is unique and can be achieved by many different ways. It’s depend on the vfx supervisor/vfx producer’s experience to decide which is the most efficient way to approach. Some shots could be done by just one compositor with one software. But some shots might need lots of artists all with different specialty and use different software to achieve. If you can describe what you try to do with your shot, we might be able to point out a direction for you. But to be able to operate the software properly to achieve your vision, you might need to go through some training.

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