Visual Effects, often referred to as VFX, is the combination of existing video footage with various techniques to either alter or enhance the final output. This can be as obvious as adding a new 3d creation into the original film footage, or as subtle as removing a small object that should not be in shot. These various digital effects include post production techniques such as green screening, rotoscoping, camera tracking, matte painting and many more which can be combined to create the modified footage ready for export.
In the early days of cinema, visual effects use to be extremely specialist, consequently only becoming available with Hollywood budgets. These days the tools required to achieve these high-end visual effects have become more readily available and much more financially viable, hence why the term ‘fix it in post’ has become so popular amongst cameramen.
Unfortunately, not everything is possible when it comes to modifying existing footage, which is why film sets will have a vfx supervisor on shoot to make sure the post production team have all the data required to complete the necessary effects. When combining the vfx techniques with the limitless potential of 3d animation, virtually any film effect imaginable can be accomplished, depending on the production budget. This is why a well-planned approach is essential to identify exactly what footage should be shot on film, and which scene elements are better produced using CGI.