What Makes an Award-Winning Visual Effect?

Cinefex’s Graham Edwards interviewed a global panel of vfx experts, including our VFX Supervisor Randall Smith. Read some excerpts below:


In an age where seamlessly-integrated, photoreal effects are taken completely for granted, what constitutes a “good” visual effect?
In search of some answers, we asked an international panel of visual effects professionals this simple question:
‘How do you go about judging award-winning visual effects?’
It’s a question that could take us into some rocky territory. Luckily for us, Randall Smith, visual effects supervisor at Pixomondo, has sketched out a road map to help us on our way:
“I judge visual effects based on three criteria. First I’m looking for accuracy and photorealism — visuals so realistic that the viewer accepts what they are seeing, and their disbelief is momentarily suspended.
Secondly, I’m looking for pure, artistic expression. The best effects stand out when the artists aren’t held back by the limitations of a cost-effective solution, and instead aim towards new discoveries within their art.
Last — and most importantly — the measure of a great effect will always be its success in storytelling. It’s amazing that a Muppet, with a team of artist’s hands shoved up its backside, can create a compelling story with a huge range of emotion. In comparison, some of most expensive effects shots often fall flat, losing the narrative and thereby losing the viewer.”

How Much is Too Much?

One criticism frequently levelled at today’s effects-heavy tentpoles is that the sheer weight of visual imagery threatens to overload viewers’ senses and derail flimsy storylines. Randall Smith is as familiar with the trend as the rest of us:
“Much of what we see today is visual effects for the sake of visual effects, effects that are distracting the viewer, begging for attention.”

The Feelings of the Panel

Our panel of experts has discussed at length the myriad ways by which visual effects can be judged. However, perhaps the most useful insights they can give us are concerned not with what they think, but how they feel. So away with the commentary — let’s allow the emotions to speak for themselves:
“Once in a blue moon, you will find a visual effect that includes both extraordinary amounts of artistic vision and near-perfect realism. The moment may go overlooked by the audience, because it fades so completely into the story supporting it. These moments will be studied for years to come.”

Randall Smith, visual effects supervisor, Pixomondo

Be sure to check out the original article at Cinefex Blog!