The Visual Effects Pipeline

The Visual Effects Pipeline

So you keep hearing about this thing called The Pipeline, but what is it? Well question no more because I'll take you through its workings and shed some light on what the pipeline actually is!

When a game or movie is developed it follows a process.  In the beginning everything comes from an idea and from that idea comes the Concepts, modelling, Animation, Visual Effects and lastly Compositing and Lighting.  This is the pipeline!  From concept to completion you'll follow this while working in film and game design!

One of the first steps down the pipeline is Concept Design.  Art directors and development teams work with concept artists to create a storyboard and come up with a specific visual style for the project. The artist's are tasked with designing Props, Environments, Characters and Creatures. This is where the story begins to materialize.  When this stage is complete the concepts are then handed over to the 3D modellers.




3D Modelling is the second step within the pipeline.  From this point modellers take two dimensional concepts and re-create them into three dimensional digital sculptors.  Using programs such as ZBrush, Maya and Mudbox. 3D modellers will then add texture and detail to the their designs. Once complete it's off to the next crew, the animators!





Our third step down the pipeline is Animation, this is where the completed 3D models are brought to life using skeletal control rigs.  A character rigger constructs skeletons that animators control.  We rely on animators to manipulate a character giving it fluid and believable motion.  Animators study and mimic human and animal behavior which they use to integrate into their characters.  Other tasks may also include the animation of scenery, vegetation and environmental effects!




Visual Effects is the fourth step within the pipeline.  A VFX artist develops and implements anything digitally that cannot be done practically.  Using programs such as Maya and Houdini a VFX artist is able simulate natural effects like rain or snow or destructive sequences such as raging fires or collapsing bridges.  VFX artists have overlapping responsibilities between 2D and 3D art creation as well as animating.  After their job is complete it is passed down to the last step in the pipeline, compositing and lighting.




Compositing & Lighting may be last but its definitely not the least! this is where the finishing touches go in.  Artists manipulate digital images combing all elements and create the illusion that all are one.  Whether it's creating lighting effects to removing green screens or adding objects in the backdrop, compositing and lighting artist's ensure continuity is maintained and the specific style of the project is respected.




So this concludes the adventure down the visual effects pipeline, hopefully this gives you a bit more insight and understanding into what happens within each process, helping us achieve cinematic greatness!

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