Here Are 6 Core Concepts of Visual Effects for Newbies

Working in visual effects is awesome — there's no doubt about that. However, its concepts can be complicated and therefore a little intimidating for newbies.

If you are just starting out in VFX, this video from RocketJump Film School offers a great introduction into the art form, explaining core concepts like compositing, keying, and matte painting.

Core Concepts

  • Compositing: combining different elements into a single image
  • Tracking: matching the movements of live footage with your VFX elements (also called match moving or motion tracking)
  • Rotoscoping: manually cutting out or tracing elements in the shot in order to add VFX elements
  • Keying: using a color (typically green or blue) as a matte layer to allow you to incorporate VFX elements into a background
  • Matte painting: painting on glass or other material to give the illusion of a landscape that isn't there
  • 3D modeling: RocketJump lists a bunch of concepts in this section, but they'll cover it all more in depth in a later video.

Getting into VFX is an exciting decision for artists, because, quite literally, you can make anything you can think of. However, it's an incredibly technical craft that requires a ton of study and practice, but RocketJump did a great job of not only showing you the basics, but (hopefully) whetting your appetites to seek out more information.     

Your Comment


this is terrible.
random comments without clear examples is the last thing people who know very little about VFX, but are interested, need to start learning about this very complex subject. A much better video would have taken a shot from a film that contained examples of the basic principles and broken it down - or there are dozens of breakdown videos from VFX studios for all kinds of films, TV shows etc...assembling them into something clear and comprehensive would have taken as much time as whatever this is trying to be.

March 17, 2016 at 5:11PM, Edited March 17, 5:11PM

Michael Goldfarb
Senior Technical Director - Side Effects

Please giant wise asshole man on his keyboard, deliver us a thorough beginner's guide to VFX.

March 17, 2016 at 6:08PM, Edited March 17, 6:08PM

Paul-Vincent Alexander

NFS might have posted this before, but i've always found this breakdown from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind to highlight the more subtle aspects of incorporating vfx...

March 18, 2016 at 11:55AM