VFX Breakdown for BYF

June 3, 2020

What are VFX? 

VFX are visual effects. We use this term to describe any imagery that is created, altered, or enhanced for your video. It’s the movie magic that cannot be accomplished during live-action production and has to be added in post.

Recently, we did a video project for Build Your Future, an NCCER initiative that aims to recruit the next generation of craft professionals. You can learn more about the project here.  

One vignette featured a young student in math class, watching a group of architects and construction workers outside of his classroom window as the new building goes up. 

But, production budgets and timelines often don’t allow for the perfect locations. The script called for a school with a classroom that had big, wide windows with a visible construction site… 

While it’s possible that the perfect location existed somewhere, our crew needed to make it happen on time and on budget. 

So, the crew captured footage of the young student, staring out the wide window of his classroom, daydreaming about a future where he designs his own buildings. But, he was just staring at an empty field. 

Enter visual effects in post production.

“So, we have a boy in a classroom with an empty field behind him,” Taylor explains, “He is in a class learning about the math behind construction, so we wanted to add in a construction scene. In simple terms, using After Effects, I cut out the building and put it into this shot, and I added a sequence of layers into the shot to make it seem like it was there to begin with.” 

But, where do you get the necessary footage to layer into the necessary scenes? 

“We usually try to shoot another scene ourselves so we can customize it to fit the scene as much as possible,” Taylor said. But, older footage or stock imagery can work as well. 

And, it doesn’t always have to be video. Still images like a .jpeg or .png can work when combined with additional effects that provide movement and make them seem more 3-dimensional. 

But, what should clients consider before assuming a visual effect like that can be added? 

“There’s a specialized solution for every version of a shot that you want to get. So, if you shoot something with a particular vision in mind, and that vision changes down the road… things can become exponentially more difficult.”

Pre-planning visual effects goes a long way in saving time and keeping a project on track.


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