Remember that jaw-dropping scene in your favourite sci-fi epic? The one where spaceships soared through swirling nebulae, defying reality as they battled against a colossal alien mothership? That’s the magic of VFX or visual effects. VFX transforms film, television, and beyond, giving storytellers the ability to create worlds and visuals never before possible on a screen.

In this guide, we’ll demystify the world of VFX, exploring the essential techniques, their impact on the entertainment industry, and the vital role animation plays.

VFX Meaning (What is VFX?)

VFX stands for visual effects. It encompasses any imagery created, altered, or enhanced outside of a traditional live-action shoot. Whether it’s an entire fantastical landscape or subtle changes to a scene, if real-world filming couldn’t capture it, VFX artists make it happen.

Myth-busting moment: VFX isn’t just about blockbuster action films and explosions. From adding a missing crew member in the background of a shot to enhancing the atmosphere with subtly swirling mist, VFX is a multifaceted tool in any filmmaker’s arsenal.

Visual Effects (VFX) vs Special Effects (SFX)

VFX and SFX are often used interchangeably, but there’s a key difference between the two. Understanding this distinction can help you grasp how filmmakers create those spectacular moments on screen.

  • VFX (Visual Effects): VFX encompasses any visual manipulations done in post-production, after the primary filming is complete. This means VFX work predominantly happens in the digital realm using computers, specialised software, and the artistry of VFX professionals. Examples of VFX include:
    • Creating digital environments
    • Adding animated creatures or characters
    • Enhancing real-world elements with digital effects (like explosions or energy blasts)
  • SFX (Special Effects): SFX refers to effects created practically, meaning they’re done during the actual filming on a physical set. Here are some examples of SFX:
    • Controlled explosions using pyrotechnics
    • Simulated rain, snow, or fog
    • Prosthetics and make-up effects to transform actors

While there’s a clear distinction, VFX and SFX often work hand in hand. Think of a car chase with explosions. The car chase itself might be filmed with stunt drivers (SFX), while the explosions and debris are enhanced or added entirely in post-production (VFX). The most spectacular visuals come from a skilled blend of both VFX and SFX techniques.

The Key Ingredients of VFX

The Key Ingredients of VFX

The world of visual effects is built upon a diverse set of techniques. Here’s a look at its essential building blocks:


Imagine multiple layers of images or video footage seamlessly intertwined to create a single, believable scene. Compositing is the art of blending elements shot at different times and locations, whether it’s adding a computer-generated creature into a live-action environment or replacing a green screen with a stunning alien landscape. This technique gives filmmakers incredible flexibility and control over the final image.

Matte Painting

Imagine breathtaking landscapes that transport you to otherworldly realms or historical cities meticulously recreated. Matte paintings are digital works of art, often photorealistic, that establish backgrounds or extend existing sets. Originally painted on glass, they now exist entirely in the digital realm, allowing for immense detail and the potential for camera movement to add a sense of depth and realism.

CGI and 3D Animation

At the heart of countless VFX shots lies the power of computer-generated imagery (CGI) combined with 3D animation. Using specialised software, artists create digital models of anything imaginable – from characters and creatures to impossible vehicles and structures. 3D motion graphics then breathe life into these models, allowing for nuanced performances and dynamic movement. The result can be photorealistic visuals that defy the laws of physics or stylised graphics full of personality, both with the ability to integrate seamlessly with live-action footage.


Have you ever marvelled at a realistic explosion, cascading waterfall, or swirling smoke in your favourite film? Chances are, simulations played a key role. Using physics-based systems, VFX artists can create complex natural phenomena, including fire, water, destruction, weather effects, and more. These simulations bring a level of realistic detail and unpredictable movement that would be impractical or even impossible to capture on camera.

Where You'll See VFX in Action

Where You’ll See VFX in Action

Films & Television

The most obvious examples come from blockbusters, but these days, even reality TV and dramas rely on VFX to polish scenes, remove unwanted elements, or enhance storytelling.

Beyond Entertainment

VFX plays a key role in advertising, creating fantastical product demonstrations and bringing mascots to life. Video games rely heavily on VFX, and even architectural visualisation uses similar techniques to showcase buildings before they’re constructed.

The Importance of VFX in Storytelling

VFX empowers storytellers to transcend the limitations of the physical world. Here’s how these tools play a crucial role in filmmaking, from subtle enhancements to grand fantastical sequences:

Expanding Visual Possibilities

Have you ever wished to journey to a distant galaxy, witness a historical battle unfold, or encounter fantastical creatures? VFX gives filmmakers the freedom to build entire worlds that could never exist in reality. This limitless visual vocabulary allows stories to reach new heights, unbound by the logistical restrictions of filming in the real world.

Enhancing Realism and Mood

VFX can transport audiences to a particular era, subtly adding historical context and authenticity, or seamlessly removing distracting elements to refine the final image. Digital set extensions can immerse viewers in atmospheric settings – from a bustling marketplace to a desolate wasteland. Done well, these touches enhance the mood of a scene and create a believable environment for the story.

Solving Unseen Problems

Sometimes, even the best-laid plans encounter challenges during filming. VFX can fix these issues with finesse – whether it’s removing a crew member accidentally caught on camera, adjusting the weather for continuity, or even replacing a faulty prop in post-production.

The Power of Unnoticed Effects

The most successful VFX are invisible to the audience. Whether it’s enhancing the lighting in a scene, adding atmospheric effects, or perfecting the movement of an animated character, VFX serves the story in subtle yet impactful ways. When done right, this creates a seamless and believable experience, transporting the viewer fully into the filmmaker’s world.

Animation – The Heart of Many VFX

Animation holds the key to unlocking a sense of life and believable dynamism within VFX sequences. From fantastical creatures to sleek vehicles, skilled animators bring a sense of realism to computer-generated elements that would otherwise appear lifeless. By focusing on the principles of physics, weight, and nuanced performance, they elevate VFX shots, ensuring they blend seamlessly with the real world.

Consider a photorealistic VFX creature. It’s more than just its intricate design – it’s the way it moves that convinces us it exists. From the subtle twitch of an ear to the shifting weight as it walks, the expertise of an animator brings it to life. The same principles apply to vehicles, whether it’s the bounce of a spaceship over turbulent terrain or the smooth acceleration of a futuristic car.

But animation’s influence in VFX extends far beyond creatures and vehicles. Motion graphics and animated elements have become integral to storytelling. Think of an informative heads-up display (HUD) projected within the visor of a superhero, showcasing vital information as the action unfolds. Or, a swirling blast of energy in a wizard’s duel, pulsating with power. These carefully crafted elements add depth, enhance storytelling, and seamlessly integrate with live-action footage to create a visually engaging and informative experience.

The Limitless Possibilities of Animation and VFX

The power of VFX lies in its ability to make the impossible a stunning reality. Whether it’s building worlds, animating creatures, or perfecting subtle details, VFX transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary. And at the heart of compelling VFX often lies the artistry of animation, infusing digital creations with life and authenticity.

At Genesis Motion Design, we’re passionate about harnessing this synergy between animation and VFX to push creative boundaries. Let’s explore how we can elevate your visuals and bring your boldest ideas to life. Get in touch to start your journey into the world of VFX with our leading animation studio

Contact us here!