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Friday, September 17, 2021

What are the steps in making special effects for movies?

What are the steps in making special effects for movies?

CG is so common in modern films that viewers often ignore the many processes contained in the scenes enhanced by computers. Although it is more and more common to analyze videos behind the scenes, few show how the VFX process is composed. So, what are the steps of making special effects in movies? Today

1. Pre fabrication

research and development

The first step in any visual effects pipeline is usually research and development. During this period, the staff will focus on software preferences and technology, and decide what technical methods to use to make special effects.


Visual preview is essentially to convert storyboards and scripts into special effects shots in the form of low-quality, three-dimensional animation. Although this does not always accurately reflect the final result, the director can know what the lens looks like and better prepare the photography style.

2. Production

3D modeling

CG is the most widely used and one of the most critical uses is 3D modeling. 3D modeling takes place in the three stages of the whole production process, and becomes an iteration with different details for different purposes. For example, pre visualization requires only a low detail version of the final product to be displayed.

Mask painting

Although 3D models make up most of the environment, many backgrounds are still created with masks. Before the rise of digital effects, masks were often used to create backgrounds, and today they are still as important as ever.

Main photography and reference photography

During the actual shooting, some members of the special effects team usually stay on the scene. Although they have no influence on the main photography, they will take a large number of photos from the environment to individuals to seemingly unimportant props. These photos are used to create the texture of the 3D model and provide reference for the real attributes of the scene, such as lighting, object size, etc.

3. Post production

Site preparation

Field preparation covers a variety of processes, but serves the same purpose: preparing materials for the elements to be inserted, including motion tracking, masking, matting and color correction.


It is binding that moves 3D models, such as characters and vehicles. For example, a 3D model of an animal is initially static, but once manipulated, its limbs and body can be adjusted and make a given action.


The animator adds motion to the bound model and is responsible for the physics of most CG. Animators often test bindings and try to "crack" them, sending them back to the binding department for refinement until they are perfect.

Effect / simulation

Explosion, water flow and smoke are all based on simulation. Polishing effects (from lens halo to false cigarette smoke) are added to the existing scene, at which time the final product is faintly visible.


Texturing is to add surface colors and textures to 3D models so that they can be recognized and close to completion. In this process, metal objects have luster and human beings have skin.


One of the most important factors in real CGI is how realistic the light is. Excellent lighting will accurately imitate the setting, while poor lighting is often the culprit of false sense.


The final stage has come! In visual effects analysis, you will often see synthesis, which combines everything into a finished product.

About the steps of special effects in film production, global Ivy League Xiaobian will share it with you here. If you are interested in the later stage of film and television, I hope this article can help you. If you want to know more about camera skills, post editing methods and materials, you can click other articles on this site to learn.

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