Are you a cinephile? What do Hollywood blockbusters like Gravity, Avatar, Maleficent, How to Train Your Dragon, Avengers, Infinity Wars, and Interstellar have in common? If you have already cracked it, then you must also know that these movies are loaded with visual effects and animations and are a delight to watch. But more than just watching action-packed movies, are you inclined towards adding stunning visual effects and striking edits? Are you someone who is filled with crazy and innovative ideas that you are eager to put to action? Do you also believe that there is no end to the imagination and sky is the limit when it comes to adding visual effects in films and videos? Does working and perfecting a video never bores you, in fact, you find it way more interesting than your studies. If your answer to all these questions is a big ‘yes’, then go ahead and read what it takes to be a Film and Video designer.
A Film Designer is responsible for adding and mixing Visual and Special effects (VFX/SFX) and computer-generated imagery (CGI) to create visually engaging motion graphics and animations. They use software like FrameForge 3D Studio, Newtek’s Lightwave 3D, Autodesk Maya, MotionBuilder, and Softimage XSI as tools to add visual and special effects.
Why become a Flim And Video Designer?
Film Designers add or mix Visual/Special effects (VFX/SFX), CGI (Computer Generated Imagery), 2D animation, 3D animation, motion graphics, 2D graphics, and other computer-generated effects to create or enhance visual imagery in the making of a film. Their work is either integrated with live-action shots of actors (shot by the camera persons and the Director of Photography) or added as additional visual/ special effect shots.
From Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Marry Poppins, and Jurassic Park to Interstellar, Avatar and Inception, from Dhoom, Krrish, and Ra one, Robot and Robot 2.0, Film Designers have changed the way films are made and created. Imagine what would Lord of the Rings be without the grand and epic battles and magical creatures? How Marry Poppins would become our favorite childhood fairy-tale-come-true kind of story and how would Ironman or the Hulk become our real-life Superheroes, had there been no use of Visual and Special effects?
Where do you begin as a Film Designer?
Before the shooting or the making of a film begins, there are many aspects of the shooting or filmmaking that need to be taken care of in the initial stages (commonly called the pre-production stages). So, to keep things in line and not miss the important steps in the making of a film loaded with visual and special effects, a common tool that gets everyone on the same page is previsualization (also called previs).
This is where you begin as a Film Designer.
Pre-Visualization or Previs involves the visualization of complex scenes in a movie before filming and allows the visual effects supervisors, illustrators, and concept artists to run their creative minds to chalk out and experiment with different staging and direction options such as camera movement and placement, lighting, stage direction, etc.
Earlier filmmaking techniques were limited to only the previously mentioned experimentations but now with digital technology, the previs stage of filmmaking has become even more interesting as it uses computer graphics (mostly 3D) to create outline versions of more complex shots in a scene. These rough outlines are then further edited together along with some audio and video effects or even dialogue.
A Film Designer plays a significant role by not just looking into a few shots or sequences with visual or special effects in them but also by determining how those sequences will fit into the narrative or story of the film.
As a Film Designer you would take necessary steps at the previs stage using software such as FrameForge 3D Studio, Newtek’s Lightwave 3D, Autodesk Maya, MotionBuilder, and Softimage XSI as a tool to determine where the camera will be, what will it see and what components in the frame will be digital.
You will be responsible for translating the previs to the film crew and will work along with the VFX supervisor, production designer, cinematographer, assistant directors, and other crew members. It is after these plans are finalized that the actual shooting of the film begins.
Usually, the addition of special and visual effects is done along with the shooting of the scenes as most of the movies these days are highly dependent on VFX/SFX techniques which cut costs and provide an easier way to shoot complex scenes. Do you remember all the scenes from Dhoom or even Krish (even their sequels)? Guess how those super-fast bike chases were shot and how the lead character in Krrish was able to take such long jumps? Yes, all these were shot using the VFX/SFX techniques.
You will design many shots along with other professionals to make the characters of a film do extraordinary things (such as the super long jumps that the lead character in Krrish took)
So, in order to be a Film Designer, you must also know what information is needed in order to digitally add something to a shot and make it look realistic. You will work along with digital artists too. You must understand the fundamentals of three-dimensional space that the camera has captured.
You, along with other creative artists would create a 3D space that would resemble the actual physical space of the set in the computer. This would create a digital space for the computer-generated character or for an action shot of an actor which will be finally composited into that shot.
With the help of several tools and software, the computer-generated (CG) characters would be then integrated into the digital space created by you and the creative artists. This kind of editing and compositing is widely used in animated films. Some of such films are Toy Story, How to Train Your Dragon (complete series), Finding Nemo, The Lego Movie, Coco, Wall-E, The Lion King, and Frozen.
In the case of a film like Krrish, typically, actors perform in a studio in front of a green or blue screen. The action shots of the actors are then composited into the 3D Digital Space created by you and other creative artists using various software tools.
In the production process of making a film like Krrish, the directors, cinematographers, actors or camera operators may be staring at a big empty space covered with green or blue screen and it is up to the film designers, VFX supervisors and the creative crew to oversee and examine the equipment’s and software’s needed to create and integrate special effects into the action shots.
Use of motion capture techniques and the techniques of film design
The VFX supervisor also works with the animation supervisor and the director of the film to determine whether to use techniques like motion capture – where actors perform movements that are captured with special cameras and later converted to information that moves the character animation. When motion capture is used, the VFX supervisor often works side by side with the director to guide the actors’ performances and the scene is finally captured.
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Digital Intermediate (DI)
In almost all film shootings, a film goes through Digital Intermediate (DI) which is a format that allows live shots and scenes to be integrated with visual and special effects (VFX/SFX).
Tracking, Rotoscoping, Chroma Keying, Rigging, and other techniques
It is after this that the Film Designers perform several roles according to their areas of specialization. The addition of various effects begins with Tracking and Rotoscoping which is the process of separating the elements and objects in the shot from one other.
Chroma Keying is the art of compositing live-action shots with digital backgrounds and 3D models; Rigging refers to the process of creating the bone structure of a 3D model which is used to manipulate the 3D model like a puppet for animation.
For effects with Computer Generated (CG) objects, there are further stages of animation, lighting, shading, texturing and rendering.
These days motion capture or performance capture is used for handling CG characters.In this, actors and stunt performers act in grey suits with tracking pointers on them. Then these motion shots of the actors and stunt performers are used to drive the animation of the CG characters, which can then mask the original actor.
Most of films nowadays are heavily dependent on visual and special effects, therefore as a Film Designer, you would perform several duties according to the area you specialize in such as Computer Generated Imagery (CGI), Compositing, Modelling, Lighting, Animation, and Pre-visualization, etc.
Video Designers edit and operate the arrangement of video shots in which they structure and present all the video information of all formats like films, television shows, commercials, etc.
As a Video designer you would be involved in editing footage; adding title montage, adding graphics, and scene transitions, adding high-quality audio tracks; trimming and cutting footage; applying and adjusting colors, and adding titles to the video footage.
You would also create, arrange and compose layers; you would remove unwanted backgrounds, separate objects and combine layers to build styled compositions; you would create animated titles and add 3D texts, and you would render and export videos in various formats.
You would produce high-resolution video files; you would also be fixing and stabilizing blur video footage, re-correct the exposure, and edit video colors; you would apply immersive effects, fix and repair faulty green/blue screen footage and add expert special effects.
As a Video designer, you would use several tools and video editing software like:
Adobe After Effects, Adobe Presenter Video Express, Autodesk Flame, Autodesk Smoke, Avid Media Composer, AVS Video Editor, Camtasia, Corel VideoStudio, Cyberlink PowerDirector, DaVinci Resolve Studio, Edius, Final Cut Pro X, Blackbird, Magix Movie Edit Pro, Magix Vegas Pro, Media 100 Suite, MPEG Video Wizard DVD, muvee Reveal, Pinnacle Studio.
Popular specialization in Flim and Video Designing
CGI professionals are involved in creating both 2D and 3D digital images and specialize in one or more divisions of such as: hard surface modeling, organic modeling, concept art painting, architectural rendering, animation, and/or visual effects.
What does a Flim and Video Designer do?
As a Film Designer, you would be involved in the following key roles and responsibilities:
- You would be creating, refining, rendering and animating photorealistic 3D environments and images
- You would be creating visually stunning and technically challenging photo-real visual effects on digital projects of the highest quality
- You would be developing workflows to help maximize quality and efficiency across Studio Production
- You would be involved in creative 3D concepts with good communication, planning, concepts/sketches, etc.
- Your primary focus will be to work on video projects requiring Motion Tracking, Keying, Rotoscopy, and Paint(clean up), Match moving, Compositing, Color Correction, Animation (2D/3D), and Typography.
- You would also be well skilled with 3D Max, VRAY, Texturing, Adobe Photoshop, AutoCAD, Premiere Pro, Adobe After Effects, Maya, Photoshop, Illustrator, Cinema 4D, Mocha & PF track
- You would be involved in creating High-quality 3D models and having sound knowledge in Octane and substance painting.
- You would be involved in developing creative approaches, computer graphic elements, and miniature and CGI sources, seamlessly integrating all the layers.
- You would be seamlessly integrating all the layers or elements of a shot, including live-action and computer graphic elements.
- You would be required to do Blue / green screen extractions.
- You would be involved in the seamless integration of live-action, miniature and CGI sources.
- You would also take part in client reviews and follow production methodologies.
- You would develop creative approaches and problem-solving constantly deliver excellent results with minimal supervision.
As a Video Designer, you would be involved in the following key roles and responsibilities:
- You would establish a clear understanding of the storyline and purpose of the video’s creation.
- You would discuss the project timeline, narrative structure, story goals and more.
- You would splice raw film footage together from various sources and shoots and combine it with other scenes to create a cohesive story.
- You would be familiar with using the latest software, tools and techniques of video editing such as Adobe Premiere & After Effects, Final Cut Pro X, Avid Media Composer, InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop
- You should also be familiar with various conversion tools, Audio effects, Video effects, etc.
- You would evaluate edited footage to make sure it matches the story from the script and meets the narrative agenda of the film.
- You would combine visual footage with audio sound effects, dialogue, ambient sound and a musical soundtrack to create more drama in the story.
- You would also ensure the correct formatting and presentation for finalized videos according to the client’s specifications.
- You would also implement digital designs and complete application templates for product marketing videos.
- You would be involved in Video conceptualizing, storyboarding, and production of motion graphics with the ability to integrate multiple assets into creative videos
How to become a Flim and Video Designer – Eligibility Criteria
After completing Class 11-12 with any subject as per the scheme of studies you can pursue graduation in Film and Television/ Digital media(Film and Video design)/Computer Generated ImageryDesign/AnimationArt/ Media Communication/ Mass Media/ Mass Communication followed by a Post Graduate Diploma in Advanced Visual Effects/Compositing/Digital Lighting/Digital media/2D/3D Animation/or related field.
After completing Class 11-12 with any subject as per the scheme of studies you can pursue graduation in Film and Television/Computer Generated Imagery/Digital media(Film and Video design)/ Design/AnimationArt/ Media Communication/ Mass Communication/ Mass Media. After graduation, you can then pursue a master’s in Digital Media (Film and video design)/ Film and Video communication or a similar field.
After completing Class 11-12 with any subject as per the scheme of studies you can pursue graduation in BFA Digital Production/Computer Visualization/Computer Animation or a similar course followed by a PG Diploma in Advanced Visual Effects/Compositing/Digital Lighting/Digital media/2D/3D Animation/or related field.
Some specialization is often essential in order to become a member of the VFX/SFX department of the feature film VFX industry, but you can also start a career as a VFX generalist in smaller production houses where roles are more varied in scope. Smaller animation and post-production companies are also producing CGI for TV, commercials, documentaries, and films with a small budget. You may also start working initially as a Graphic designer and may take up specialization in any field of interest. You may find work in the following:
Few of the Animation, Post Production and VFX Studios in India – Red Chillies VFX, Prana VFX, Dneg India (Double negative), Tata Elxsi (Visual Computing Labs), Reliance Media networks, Pixion, Dreamworks, MPC, Maya Entertainment Ltd, Pentamedia Graphics, Toonz Animation India, UTV Toonz, ETC.
Few of the top animation and visual effects companies: Animal Logic, Blue sky studios (Fox), DreamWorks Animation, Industrial Light and Magic, Pixar Animation Studios, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Weta Digital, Sony Pictures Animation, etc.
Salary of a Flim and Video Designer
Initially, at an entry level, you may start as a Graphic designer and may earn around Rs.15, 000 – 20,000 per month or even more
As an Animator, after 2-4 years of experience, you may earn around Rs. 35,000 – 40,000 per month.
As a Technical Director with an experience of around 5-7 years, you may earn around Rs. 50,000 – 65,000 per month.
As a VFX coordinator with an experience of 8-10 years, you may earn around Rs. 75,000 – 90,000 per month.
As VFX producer at a senior level, you may earn around Rs.1,00,000 – 2,50,000 per month or even more.
If you work in one of top visual effects production houses like Red Chillies VFX as VFX line producer you may earn around 12 lakhs at an average. Although film designers or especially VFX producers get paid depending on the number of projects they usually take up in a year. Usually, a project in film design could even stretch up to many years of work for a single film. For instance, the VFX crew for the film Baahubali took more than three years to come up with the visual effects-heavy feature film.
Career progression in Flim and Video Designing profession
There are several routes to becoming a Film Designer. You can start either as a Graphic Designer/ Animator or a junior-level Creative Artist.
Most Film Designers, VFX supervisors, Concept artists, and senior compositors come from an animation background and have already worked on several films or shows before landing the supervisor role. Therefore initially you will need a powerful grasp of current filmmaking techniques, as you will be on-set with the director and producers, and will need to be able to think in terms of a filmmaker when designing VFX shots.
As you work on projects in your studio, opportunities may arise that see you leading a small team over one particular aspect of production. After a few years of experience, you could end up supervising the studio, which in turn could lead you to a Film Designer or VFX supervisor role on a big-budget film.
Although the basic career progression would be:
Graphic Designer – Animator –Technical Director -Compositor – VFX Coordinator – Junior VFX Producer – VFX Producer – Senior VFX Producer
What does industry trends say – future prospects
Indian media and entertainment (M&E) industry’s growth was estimated at a CAGR (Compounded Annual Growth Rate) of 10.90 percent from FY17-18 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 13.10 percent to reach Rs. 2,660.20 billion by the year 2023 from Rs. 1,436.00 billion in FY18. According to the KPMG India-FICCI, Indian Media and Entertainment Industry Report 2017, the Indian animation and VFX industry grew at 16.4 percent in 2016 to reach a size of INR59.5 billion in 2019, driven majorly by a 31 percent growth in VFX, with animation remaining steady at a growth rate of 9%.
The VFX industry is fast emerging as an indispensable part of filmmaking, and the cutting-edge work carried out by Indian studios has catapulted the country on to the global VFX scene. The post-production segment saw a robust growth of 13 percent in 2016 and continues to perform and reap the benefits of an established ecosystem around the segment.
The animation and VFX industry is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 17.2% over 2017–21 to reach a size of INR131.7 billion. This industry is highly driven by a steady 9.5 % growth in animation and a 25 % growth in the VFX segment. The coming of age of Augmented Reality / Virtual Reality (AR/VR) technologies could be the key trigger for an even better-than-estimated growth of the animation and VFX industry. Therefore a career in Film and Video design will be in high demand in the upcoming years as well.
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