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  • Many films today use a combination of visual effects and sound.

  • CGI, and special effects to create dazzling imagery.

  • But what is the difference between these three fields?

  • This is CGI vs.

  • Special Effects vs.

  • Visual Effects.

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  • Today we are joined by Editor in Chief at VFX Magazine,

  • befores and afters Ian Fales.

  • Cue the effects!

  • AHH!

  • This?

  • Since the beginning, movies have made the impossible seem possible with a variety

  • of camera tricks and optical illusions.

  • Today, these illusions are typically achieved through

  • VFX, CGI, and special effects.

  • But it's become increasingly difficult to tell which is which.

  • Take this shot.

  • Can you tell which elements were captured on set and which

  • were added in post-production?

  • The answer may surprise you

  • though the terms are often used interchangeably.

  • Special effects VFX and CGI are all distinct elements.

  • Ian fails explains, you'll hear an interview with a

  • director, a filmmaker, an actor.

  • When they say, oh, I love the special effects.

  • And what they really mean is they love the visual effects, or vice versa.

  • CGI has sort of become a term that seems to cover all that as well.

  • Today, the term CGI specifically has become controversial, with

  • filmmakers emphasizing they use CGI sparingly, or not at all.

  • And everything you see in this film, obviously it's CGI.

  • This may be because CGI is misunderstood.

  • Using CGI again is that catch all term.

  • When people say something like something feels overly CGI, and they

  • have an affinity or they really want things to go back to being practical.

  • There you are.

  • There you are.

  • Knowing these differences allows us to become more literate about the medium.

  • and appreciate the various artists who joined forces to give

  • us unforgettable experiences.

  • Let's begin with special effects.

  • Special effects are elements that are physically created on set.

  • Special effects really relates to things that you still can't really

  • just go out and shoot easily, but that require some sort of practical

  • effects, but often done on set.

  • Today, SFX largely refers to mechanical effects, Mechanical effects are

  • elements created in front of the camera, also called practical effects.

  • This can be as simple as fake rain or fog from a fog machine, referred

  • to as atmospheric effects, but they can also refer to pyrotechnics.

  • Explosions and roaring fires created in a controlled manner.

  • Other forms of mechanical effects include animatronics and prosthetic makeup.

  • Like to kiss you goodbye.

  • All right.

  • You're so damned ugly.

  • This is all overseen by a special effects supervisor.

  • Because these effects are to a certain extent real, the supervisor's

  • primary task is to make sure they are done responsibly and safely.

  • The role of a special effects supervisor is obviously to design, collaborate with

  • the director, the production designers, the stunt personnel, you know, to achieve

  • what is in the written word of the script.

  • Like with CGI and VFX, Special effects often have to be outsourced to companies

  • that specialize in specific SFX elements.

  • Special effects have existed since the birth of cinema and

  • continue to be used to this day.

  • Let's look at what came not long after visual effects.

  • Get her

  • visual effects or VFX for short are effects added to imagery

  • captured during production.

  • VFX can include CGI, but also refers to a plethora of other techniques.

  • Visual effects have been used since early cinema.

  • George Meye used them in 1902 by employing multiple exposures in

  • his film, one man band VFX, then advanced to optical effects like

  • force perspective and optical printers

  • today.

  • Most visual effects are done digitally.

  • VFX can take many forms.

  • There is compositing, combining two or more images into one shot.

  • In RoboCop, for example, the ED 209 is a stop motion object composited

  • onto shots of the boardroom.

  • This was done using an optical printer.

  • Because it involves two shots of non digital entities, The final image

  • is a visual effect, but not CGI.

  • A common form of compositing today is the green or blue screen, which

  • allows visual effects artists to more easily remove elements of live

  • action footage using chroma keying.

  • The backgrounds can be replaced with anything, like a live action plate.

  • Or a CGI landscape.

  • Today, VFX can include virtual production techniques as seen here, where an

  • LED screen provides a background that moves in relation to the camera.

  • All of these tools have been coming into the fore lately, partly from real time

  • rendering and game engines, and partly from using tools to visualize what

  • will be the final visual effect shot.

  • This requires VFX work before shooting, where artists will create

  • the interactive background, It may also require VFX after shooting as well.

  • VFX can be used to remove objects from a frame, also called a paintout.

  • Motion capture and rotoscoping are also visual effects.

  • Before CGI, rotoscoping was done by animators who would use reference

  • footage to draw realistic movements.

  • Today, a computer will map digital imagery onto live action footage.

  • I have coded notes here, which may be of some interest to you.

  • I, uh, my own, uh, cryptology is, uh, very difficult to The visual effects supervisor

  • oversees the entire VFX pipeline.

  • This includes being involved in pre production and onset to ensure

  • the footage being captured will be usable for the VFX artists.

  • You know, in Oppenheimer, basically, Andrew Jackson, the visual effects

  • supervisor, was one of the first persons who read the script from Chris Nolan.

  • Visual effects cover a wide realm of manipulation, including CGI.

  • CGI stands for Computer Generated Imagery.

  • In other words, any visual element in a film that has

  • been solely created digitally.

  • This includes cities, vehicles, or even entire characters.

  • I know you can't understand me, but put down the stapler, or I will.

  • Will electrocute you!

  • With computer generated imagery, you can create anything or

  • recreate anything just about.

  • There's almost no end to what you can do with CGI.

  • Some shots are completely done with CGI, like this moment from WALL E.

  • But did you know that this shot also is 100 percent computer generated?

  • In many cases, CGI can be blended with live action footage.

  • For example, in this shot from Paddington 2, Paddington is CGI,

  • but the entire frame is not.

  • So, when a filmmaker claims there is no CGI in their film, there may still

  • be a plethora of digital VFX, it just isn't computer generated imagery.

  • CGI is a relatively recent addition to the filmmaker's toolkit.

  • And is rapidly evolving.

  • It was first used in Westworld in 1973, though the graphics were only

  • 2D 3D CGI in features came nearly a decade later with films like

  • Tron and the young Sherlock Holmes.

  • Today, computer generated imagery can be nearly indistinguishable

  • from live action footage.

  • It's not that long ago really, that convincing.

  • CGI was able to be used in feature films at least.

  • There was this magic period of late 80s early 90s when people realized the impact

  • that CGI would have on movie making.

  • Making shots with CGI believable requires a lot of work.

  • Forrest Gump, John Lennon.

  • It typically involves the art department, which outlines what certain

  • digital elements should look like.

  • The pre vis artists may sketch low resolution graphics to plan out scenes,

  • and then use Allowing the director and other crew members to get a sense of

  • what the final product will look like.

  • The

  • creation of the effects themselves requires multiple departments.

  • FX simulation artists will specialize in mimicking the physics of real

  • world objects like water, hair, fire.

  • Lighting artists will work to create lighting that is

  • appropriate for the scene.

  • If an object is being placed into a live action sequence, They will

  • match the pre existing lighting.

  • There's the asset department, which builds models, textures, and shaders

  • to be utilized in the imagery.

  • Meanwhile, the research and development team is constantly

  • developing and improving the software that the artists will be using.

  • CGI can be used for epic spectacles, or more subtle touches to a live action shot.

  • While VFX, CGI, and special effects all have distinct meanings, They

  • are typically used in combination.

  • Let's look at one such example in 1917.

  • Sam Mendes 1917 is a testament to the power of CGI, VFX, and special

  • effects being used in tandem.

  • The film feels grounded and real, but utilizes a combination of

  • effects throughout the film wouldn't have been possible otherwise.

  • The plane crash sequence epitomizes this approach.

  • The scene was pulled off through an intricate collaboration between VFX

  • supervisor Guillaume Rocheron and special effects supervisor Dominic Tuohy.

  • The unique challenge presented to them was making the complex

  • sequence appear to be one shot.

  • They relied on stitching, a visual effect that joins two takes to

  • appear as one continuous shot.

  • Rocheron explains the basic approach to the scene.

  • Obviously, we didn't crash a real plane.