A VFX pipeline is a process that breaks down the various stages of the workflow into logical and efficient tasks. Large production pipelines include many people working in teams. To manage a large-scale film, you need to break down workflows into manageable tasks that will be completed on time and within budget.
Every film project begins with research. Here the team decides on their technical approach which involves software preferences and talks about the different techniques that will be used in the film. This is where initial concepts and ideas are launched.
CGIs are a time-consuming process. As soon as the production team has finished scripting their project, the VFX team intervenes. She begins by planning and preparing different scenes to develop her concept art. It gives them a clear idea of what needs to be done to bring the scene together.
Watch how director Mark Bone creates his storyboards for projects:
The preview starts with laying out the scene in digital and physical sets. Once this is complete, the VFX artist will create the various models and effects required for the movie. It may seem simple enough, but a scene can include modeling, texturing, weight painting, rigging, animation, and all other special effects that require special skills. These particular skills sometimes mean a totally separate team depending on the scale of the film. The last season of power rings required over 1,500 VFX artists from 20 different VFX studios.
This is where the actual shooting of the film takes place. VFX artists will work with the production team to provide useful content on set. They also take reference photos of everything like props, environments, background, actors, etc. These photos will be used later as 3D models to improve the realism of the scene.
3D modeling is one of them and it is one of the most laborious aspects of CG effects. He turns concept art into a digital subject by creating models of props, environments, buildings, vehicles, and other objects that help the director create his vision. The first example is motion capture. 3D modelers create the character the actor is playing using a combination of VFX software such as Autodesk Maya and Pixologic Z-Brush. To do this, 3D modelers use hundreds of reference photos and 3D scans with motion capture combinations. Another example is matte painting which is one of the first VFX techniques used in cinema. They create backgrounds ranging from magical forests to castles and other 3D landscapes.
Post-production brings in all the elements of the film – video footage, special effects, CGI, music and sound. Post-production is the most labor-intensive stage in the VFX pipeline. For animation, the editing team will build a digital skeleton of their movie character or a control system that the animators will then use to animate the character. This is done with motion capture cameras that use data collected from the actual production.
The FX team is the action team. Their task is to add simulation elements to the film such as explosions, fires, smoke or other destruction for realistic results. Polishing is also applied to existing scenes to improve visuals. Another way to add finishing touches is texturing. This adds surface color and other textures to 3D models, making the models look as realistic as possible. Humans receive their skin, with detailed features and texture for the ultimate result.
Check out this interesting behind-the-scenes video, where the production team takes anti-aging effects to the next level:
Lighting is everything. After the objects and characters are completed, appropriate lighting is added to give a computer-generated scene a realistic look. This is applied throughout the 3D scene. The light, color and intensity of the original piece are enhanced while ensuring that the shadows are in focus. Once the image sequence is rendered, they are given to the compositor to put together all the VFX elements.
The last stage of post-production is compositing. This process involves taking all the elements from the films and then layering them on top of each other. Color correction, masking and other stitching are applied to achieve the final results. It’s the compositor’s job to make sure that the real objects and characters engage with computer generated effects and that everything looks seamless and realistic. That’s why it’s often called stitching, because it allows all the pieces to blend seamlessly.