Guide to CGI: discover the meaning of Visual Effects (VFX) and 3D Animation

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Discover the world of CGI, understand the meaning of visual effects (VFX) and 3D animation.

Delve into how these techniques influence the entertainment and cinema industry.

Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) represents a milestone in the evolution of the audiovisual industry, enabling the creation of entirely digital images and sequences through the use of powerful software and computer graphics technologies.

This innovative technique has opened doors to a world of limitless possibilities, allowing directors and creators to realize extraordinarily realistic and imaginative scenarios and visual effects that would otherwise be impossible, dangerous, or complex to achieve with traditional techniques.

From animating fantastical characters to setting the stage for new worlds, CGI has redefined visual storytelling and enriched the audience’s experience in unprecedented ways.

Thanks to CGI, any idea can become a reality.

Could you imagine Harry Potter, Star Wars or Toy Story without the use of these animation techniques? These stories would never have been told on the big screen!

Let’s now explore how CGI differs from the related concepts of VFX and 3D animation.

Digital Visual Effects (VFX)

VFX is an abbreviation for visual effects. This term refers to the incorporation of photo-realistic images and live-action elements into a video, in order to create a specific scene without the need to actually shoot it. For instance, gunshots, smoke or fires typically seen in movies, are visual effects added in a later phase of production and do not occur in reality. Creating these scenes in a real-world setting could be too expensive, dangerous, or complex. Sometimes, it would be literally impossible to achieve a visual effect, such as the depiction of a magical spell in a Harry Potter film.

Below, you will have the opportunity to view some examples of VFX productions created by Officina Kreativa’s CGI studio for Farmina Pet Foods, Confindustria Varese, Amaro Milone and Plasmon (Kraft Heinz Italia).

Supervision of Visual Effects

Visual effects (VFX) are created using specialized illustration, modeling, and animation software.

In every video agency, to ensure that visual effects are implemented correctly and the script is adhered to, the presence of a VFX supervisor during the production and initial processing of real scenes is essential. It is necessary to ensure that the scenes are shot and edited consistently with the visual effects to be introduced. Therefore, the VFX supervisor is a crucial figure in a video production team.

Categories of VFX

Visual effects are primarily divided into three types:

Matte Painting: Representation of landscapes and locations that serve as the background for the scene.

Digital Animation: Through modeling, lighting, and texturing, photo-realistic objects, effects, and characters are created. Motion graphics and skeletal animation techniques are employed to impart movement to what has been created. Animation is a highly complex profession because movements must adhere to the laws of physics. For example, water modeled based on pressure and the type of container it is in must flow exactly as it would in a real scene. The same applies to a human or an animal modeled in computer graphics; it must move realistically.

Compositing: Bringing together various visual elements of different origins in a homogeneous and coordinated manner, creating the illusion that these elements are part of the same scene.

La Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) rappresenta una pietra miliare nell’evoluzione dell’industria audiovisiva, consentendo la creazione di immagini e sequenze completamente digitali mediante l’uso di potenti software e tecnologie di grafica computerizzata. Questa tecnica innovativa ha aperto le porte a un mondo di possibilità illimitate, consentendo ai registi e ai creatori di realizzare scenari e effetti visivi straordinariamente realistici e fantasiosi che risulterebbero altrimenti impossibili, pericolosi o complessi, da raggiungere con le tecniche tradizionali.

Dall’animazione di personaggi fantastici all’ambientazione di mondi fantastici, la CGI ha ridefinito la narrazione visiva e ha arricchito l’esperienza degli spettatori in modo senza precedenti. 

Grazie CGI qualsiasi idea può diventare realtà. Potresti immaginare Harry Potter, Star Wars o Toy Story senza l’utilizzo di queste tecniche di animazione? Queste storie non sarebbero mai state raccontate sul grande schermo!

Vediamo ora come la CGI si differenzia dai concetti correlati di VFX e animazione 3D.

XR studio: real-time visual effects

At the beginning of the article, we specified that visual effects are introduced in a later phase of shooting, i.e., in post-production. This is indeed what has been happening and continues to occur until today. However, the world of virtual production is undergoing a significant transformation thanks to the implementation of new technologies. By using specific gaming software, it becomes possible to replace the green screen with next-generation LED walls and create VFX effects simultaneously during real shoots.

3D Animation

On the other hand, 3D animation focuses on creating entirely new content such as objects, environments, and three-dimensional characters, which are animated to generate realistic motion sequences. Through the use of specialized software, animators can intricately model objects and characters, apply textures, lighting and movements to make them vivid and believable. This practice requires a deep understanding of the laws of physics and object behavior, as the goal is to replicate human and natural actions as faithfully as possible. While VFX concentrates on manipulating existing images, 3D animation involves the complete creation of digital content, demanding a solid foundation of artistic and technical skills.

Below, you have the opportunity to watch excerpts from the works of our CGI Studio.

Target platforms and consumption

Whether it’s a cinematic or advertising work, a music video or a theatrical set, content is designed, processed and exported to ensure optimal performance on the selected target platform. This configuration process adapts to a wide range of consumption mediums, spanning from traditional cinematic, television, and video projection experiences to modern web platforms and emerging entertainment and communication technologies, such as LED wall displays and mixed reality headsets.

Officina Kreativa's CGI Studio

The CGI studio of Officina Kreativa, our headquarters, is located in Crotone, where our 3D and VFX productions come to life. We proudly feature significant national and international clients in our portfolio.

Moreover, Officina Kreativa offers virtual production services in the cities of Milan and Barcelona. For a more in-depth exploration of this topic, you can click on the link provided below:  The Future of Audiovisual Production: Virtual Sets, Green Screen, and XR Studio.

If you’re ready to start telling your story, showcasing your product, or promoting your company, we look forward to hearing from you! Simply fill out the contact form on our CGI studio’s website.