VFX is short for Visual Effects. It is used to describe imagery that has been created, manipulated, or enhanced in any moving media, that cannot take place during live-action shooting. When you integrate the live-action shot with your desired imagery, you get a VFX image. It’s a technique that comes in handy for situations where you cannot shoot due to constraints such as dangerous stunts, or in case the location or world doesn’t actually exist! Computer-generated Imagery or CGI and VFX software are used to create realistic scenes or worlds such as Pandora from the movie Avatar (2009) or the Iron Man suit of Tony Stark from the MCU.
Don’t confuse VFX for SFX (Special Effects)! SFX can be realized on the set, such as the fake gunshots, or cars exploding or a bomb blast, while VFX can’t be implemented on the movie set instantly. Examples of VFX would be Aliens, UFOs or flying fire-breathing dragons, etc.
When did VFX gain popularity?
We now know what is VFX, but when did it gain so much popularity? The use and effects of VFX were realized in the movie The Matrix (1999). I’m sure you remember the iconic scene of Neo (played by Keanu Reaves), dodging the bullets of Smith. The creators of the movie used VFX, green screens, employment of a visual effect called ‘Bullet time’ and a few graphics software to execute most part of the film. After that, VFX gained popularity among the creators and the audience.
The reason for the rising demand can be owed to the increasing frequency of transformation in the digital landscape to create imaginative scenes or larger than life frames and pictures.
Do we need VFX?
If we consider the case of movies, some genres like animation, fantasy, horror, sci-fi, action, etc., relies heavily on VFX and CGI. However, it is not just limited to such genres, regular movies, or sitcoms. VFX can be employed in case of some constraints. Say, to make a scene more effective, or to portray a particular emotion, or in case the scene to be shot poses a risk or injury to somebody and more. VFX gives the movie maker freedom and empowerment to bring his/her creativity out to the most potential possible and bring a new dimension to the video.
Here’s a fun fact: 9 out of 10 Hollywood movies use advanced VFX techniques!
Like I said before, the use of VFX is not limited to a specific genre anymore. VFX can be adapted to Virtual Reality (VR) as well. Games also rely on VFX to provide users seamless gaming experience. The dance emotes that we enjoy in video games (especially in PUBG and Fornite!), they were created using VFX and motion capture techniques.
There are many claims to fame when one is integrating VFX in their work. However, it does cost you in terms of the equipment, technicians, experts, and Softwares involved. As advanced and realistic the VFX goes, the costlier it gets. However, in this growing digital era, VFX can be used for business and marketing purposes to attract more prospective consumers. VFX/Animation gives its creator a cutting edge in delighting their consumer or audience, leaving them wanting for more. In my opinion, it’s only a matter of time for VFX to become an integral part of our daily lives.