The 51stedition of the International Fantastic Film Festival od Catalonia has kicked-off this week and that is why we have thought it might be of interest to explain how the most spectacular visual effects present in films, past and present,work.
Before talking about visual effects, we believe it is convenient to explain the difference between these and special effects, as often media mix them and that strikes us as odd particularly in key dates like the Sitges Film Festival, when everyone is talking about the technology applied to the audiovisual industry.
Special effectsare also known as practical effects or physical effects, as they are the mechanical effects carried out before and during the film shooting. The main special effects are:
- Traditional make-up and characterisation with materials such as latex, foam, silicon and other materials used for bringing monsters and similar characters to life.
- Animatronics. They are puppets used to represent characters that do not exist in real life, like the dinosaurs at Jurassic Park(1993).
- Pyrotechnic effects, destruction, artificial rain, like the ones used at Mad Max, Fury Road(2015) or The impossible(2012), where a tsunami was filmed at Ciudad de la Luz studios, in Alicante, in a huge water tank.
- Scenography. Special effects are used to create spectacular settings like ships, trains, industrial buildings, etc. A great example of a careful scenography with special effects is Un gran Inception(2010).
On the other hand, visual effectsare the ones created after the shooting of the film. They are part of the postproductionworkand have incredibly evolved in the recent years.
The main features of visual effects are:
- Morphing, which consists of an effect used in computer animation to transform the photographic image of a real object into the photographic image of a different real object. An example of morphingwould be the metamorphosis of people into werewolf.
- Motion capture. It is a motion filming technique, mainly of actors and living animals, as well as transferring those movements to a digital model made by computer images. In the context of a film, it refers to the collect the actions carried out by human actors and use them to animate digital models in 3D animation characters.
- Full CG. This refers to 100% computer-generated images. As an outcome we get visual scenes, both dynamic and static, depending on the use the computer-generated images have been thought for.
A clear example that may help us understand how visual effects work in the film industry is Matrix (1999), just the image below; or the one opening this post, where we see Emilia Clarke is riding a structure that will later be replaced by a dragon thanks to the visual effects at Game of Thrones.
Visual effects have their own identity and professionals in the 3D industry working with them must make clear the difference from that of the one carried out by special effects professionals. After all, they are completely different works.
If you are interested in visual effects, we kindly invite you to visit our portfolio where you can find all our projects in which, thanks to the great job done by forma’s team, we’ve made a step forward in the animation world.