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Visual Effects vs Animation

Getting to know the various kinds of visual effects and animation will help you better understand the level of training and the skill sets required to get a job in the prospective field. At CG Masters School of 3D Animation & VFX, we want to help you gain the skills and confidence needed to work in the film, TV, or video game industries. That is why we offer comprehensive visual effects and animation programs.

What is Visual Effects?

Visual effects, also known as VFX is about creating photo-realistic computer-generated objects the help tell a story.  VFX, uses different techniques and tools to create monsters, robots, dinosaurs, environments and many other things, usually with live action footage, such as digitally adding a background or an object to a scene in a movie or TV show. In most cases, visual effects are completed during the post-production phase (after filming) of a film or TV show using animation, rendering and compositing software.

Types of Visual Effects

The different types of visual effects include:

Invisible Effects

Invisible effects is about creating digital elements that the audience would never guess are not really there in the shot.  For example, the bruises, blood and dirt on the Rugby players in Clint Eastwood’s movie Invictus  are a great example of invisible effects.  The actors uniforms were clean during the shoot and all the dirt and blood were added as visual effects elements

Dynamic Effects

Explosions, destruction, rain, snow, fire and water are all examples of dynamic effects.  These computationally  heavy effects require technical expertise of the highest level


Robots, monsters, cars, buildings, forests and anything else you can imagine that might need to be digitally added to a shot.


Backgrounds, star ports, valleys, battlegrounds, cities.  All the things that surround our shots but can not be filmed can be added as computer generated elements.

Removal & Cleanup

When an actor flies, they are held up by wires which show up in camera.  These wires need to be carefully removed by skilled artists.  This is just one example of removal and cleanup.


Some Aspects of VFX

Matte Painting

Matte painting is used to create backgrounds and environments that don’t exist in reality.  But instead of creating a full, 3D environment, a skilled artist can “paint” an environment or background together by combining many images, objects and other elements until the environment or background suits the shot.

Live Action Effects

Live action effects follow processes in which actors interact with characters, objects, dynamic effects or scenery, sometimes through means of a blue or green screen.

Digital Animation

Advanced animation techniques, such as dynamic particle effects, character animation, matchmoving, compositing, and rotoscoping involve using software to add motion to elements in a shot as per the film or TV show’s requirements.


What is Animation?

Animation works to create the illusion of motion by changing the position of elements in a sequence. Animations can be recorded and stored in a variety of different formats, such as paper or celluloid, film, digital media, or flash animations (a type of computer file). While the different types of animation can be used for all kinds of media, the types of skills and tools needed to become an animator will depend on the kind of animation you want to focus on.

Types of Animation

The different types of animation include:

Traditional Animation

Traditional animation used to involve drawing a sequence of pictures on transparent acetate sheets (cells) and photographing them against a single background. Today, the images are drawn digitally using computers.  The sequence of frames, each one slightly different than the one before, is then shown at high speed, simulating motion.  Traditional animation is not generally used in modern visual effects.

Stop Motion Animation

Stop motion animation uses real world objects that are physically manipulated to create the illusion of movement. Similar to traditional animation, this type of animation also uses frame-by-frame photography.  Ray Harryhausen made stop motion famous in VFX in the 20th century using it to create many  monsters for live action films such as The Clash of the Titans and The Golden Voyage of Sinbad.  Today, stop motion animation is rarely used in visual effects.

Computer Animation

Computer animation is the process of creating animations by using software on a computer. This includes both 2D animations that are created by manipulating images and 2D vector graphics and 3D animations which are 3-dimensional graphics that are rigged and animated to create the illusion of movement.

If you would like to learn more about the differences between visual effects and animation, or if you are interested in our animation and VFX production program, contact CG Masters School of 3D Animation & VFX at 604-553-2462 or by filling out a contact form on our website.

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