When you’re on a Visual Effects team, your whole job revolves around creating believable effects that fit in with whichever world you’re creating in. When you’re on a VFX team for Star Wars, your job is to literally create worlds. Worlds, ships, aliens, monsters and much, much more.
Oh, and it’s your job to do all of that in a way that the audience doesn’t think about it. In Industrial Light & Magic’s “Behind the Magic” look at the visual effects of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, fans are given a glimpse of the work that goes into creating the world around the remarkable story. If you watch the clip, you can see the multitude of layers that are put together in each scene to create the immersive landscapes that Star Wars fans have escaped to for decades.
Though there is recognition for VFX teams at major awards shows such as the Oscars, the nature of the industry is that the work that goes into creating the effects goes largely underappreciated by fans. When your overall goal is to make your work seamless and unnoticeable, it’s to be expected. It also makes behind the scenes looks so much more important.
Not only do they shine a much deserved light on the teams creating the remarkable effects, they show future VFX artists what they can aspire to be. After all, without those artists, the very worlds we have grown to love wouldn’t exist.
Next time you’re watching a film, pay attention to the different kinds of visual magic that you’re experiencing. Is it a practical effect or is a visual one? Ask yourself what may have gone into those effects. If it’s practical, what kind of work went into building it? How many hours of make-up went into creating the look? If it’s visual, ask yourself how many digital layers went into building the world that you’re staring at. Don’t think about it so much that you ruin the magic for yourself, but remember to thank your magicians every once in a while.