In film making, Visual Effects means creating a processed
image with a brand new environment outside the context of a live shot because
it allows to create a unique world or places that may be impossible to capture,
expensive to reach, impractical for acting or just dangerous.
Furthermore, Visual Effects help to give a realistic look to the live action
footage, as well as a brand new world totally integrated in it.
Around the 1900’s and 1910’s George Méliès, a French magician and film
director, released one of his most famous films, the well-known “A trip to the
moon” in which he used almost every kind of special and visual effects tricks
that are used today, even if evolved.
He is considered the one who invented the fantasy and sci-fi cinema, and he is
universally recognized as the “father” of special and visual effects,
the one who accidentally discovered the substitution trick, using for the first
time multiple exposure, the fading and hand-painted color directly on the film.
From those years, Visual Effects started an evolution, becoming very elaborate,
more specifically it was around the 1920’s that things started to change: on
the 1926 Fritz Lang’s Metropolis influenced a lot the VFX industry with its “Schüfftan
Process” (used even in other movies), an effect which consisted in using
various forced perspective techniques in order to create a kind of optical illusion
related to distance and size.
From the 1950’s, thanks to the development of technology and tools such as the
Motion Control Rig and the Blue Screen technique, very sophisticated footage
became to be a reality.
The first was developed by Paramount and the second allowed to extract and
composite a person or an object previously recorded against a blue or green background,
in order to replace it with a custom one.
Computer graphics evolution led to the development of the Bezier Curves in
1970’s as well as the creation of the famous CG teapot, a recognised computer
With the beginning of the 80’s the industry saw a wide range of new graphics
software house, as well as the release of new products like the famous AutoCAD
by Autodesk in 1982.
Around those years the company LucasFilm changed its name to Pixar Animation
Studios (1986) and the company released Renderman, a famous rendering software always
used for 3D animated movies such as Toy Story or A Bug’s Life, and especially
for in-house productions: moreover it is used with Maya by Autodesk.
It is in the 90s that the industry felt a significant rise