What is a Visual Effects Director

What is a Visual Effects Director & What’s Their Position on Set?

The visual effects director or visual effects supervisor is responsible for producing computer generated images that make the video production more visually appealing and engaging. Even some of the lower budget films include some level of funding for basic visual effects in the post-production phase. The visual effects director is the creative voice behind these effects and works as the technical manager that oversees the work of the staff members that create the visual effects.

Visual Effects Director

Visual Effects Director Responsibilities

This role is both exciting and demanding as post-production schedules are often extremely tight and staying on budget is vital at this stage when much of the expenditures have already taken place and the budget is close to being exhausted. The visual effects supervisor role requires close communication with the Director and Producer to ensure the script is followed accurately and that all visual effects appropriately relate to the audience and the core message of the film.

Visual effects directors have a solid understanding of the expectations of the Director and can conceptualize ideas to his or her crew which is made up of artists, modelers, animators, designers and various other individuals. The visual effects designers produce sketches, environmental paintings, animations and 3-D models to show what the finished project will look like.

Various materials come together to illustrate the visual effects for the director and producer to see and understand the aesthetics involved. Here the supervisor will collaborate with various production member Heads of Department to determine whether blue or green screen should be used, if motion control is required or whether other equipment will be necessary to make the visual effects of the production seamlessly come together.

Production Size

Film productions and television videos use visual effects teams that research and produce effects with the assistance of development tools and software. The Visual effects supervisor must be able to fully educate the team of artists and programmers in the appropriate design protocol that is used in the production.

In smaller productions, where a plate supervisor is not employed, the visual effects supervisor will take on the role of trading his or her time between working on set and in the studio. On the set, the VFX Director monitors shoots to make sure that sight lines are in place for the actors and that lighting and framing are in line to ensure seamless integration of the visual effects during editing. Footage that is captured is edited and locked during the principal photography in the ideal situation allowing the VFX artists to begin work well ahead of the standard post-production schedule. This allows the show to be expedited and the editing process can be completed more rapidly.

Visual Effects Director Skills

Visual effects directors have several major skills that help them to do their job. Most have a college education in animation, computer design, or a similar field. They receive formal training in the use of visual effects software, computer animation programs, and other software such as LightWave, Maya or similar programs that make their job possible. Therefore, strong ability to work on a computer for long periods of time and the ability to understand various software is a must.

These individuals work closely with various members on the crew so strong communication is also required. They must be able to explain their ideas in a way that allows artists, and others on the film crew, to understand what they are saying and to visualize their concepts. Study in fine art is vital to ensure the VFX director can draw, paint, sculpt, and otherwise produce the effects desired.

Color theory, still photography, and art history knowledge will help the VFX director to perform his or her role.

Additional skills include:

  • Communication with others.
  • Ability to speak clearly and help others understand visual components.
  • Software skills.
  • Visual effects skills.
  • Digital video production skills.
  • Knowledge of modeling and rigging.
  • Knowledge of various film techniques.
  • Knowledge of match moving, rotoscoping and similar techniques.
  • Ability to work calmly under pressure.
  • Ability to work long hours, while staying within budget and on schedule.

Alexander Richter uploaded a video explaining not only the role of Visual Effect Directors, but also Animation and Game directors



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