Visual Effects: When Should You Use Them?

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Image credits – Wikimedia

Visual effects have been part of film making ever since the art form took birth. For example, George Méliès was one of the earliest filmmakers to heavily rely on visual effects during the 1900s. Ever since then, visual effects have been a core part of cinema.

The reason why visual effects are used is because they enhance the movie watching experience and provide a range of other benefits. For example, they make it easier filmmakers to craft stories without certain limitations. We all know how imaginary concepts are often a very important part of film and the only way to depict them on screen is through visual effects.

To put it simply, visual effects help movie makers realize ideas or concepts that are non-existent in the real word.

However, an over-dependence on visual effects is bad idea. There is time and a place when they make sense to your story. Let’s explore this idea further

Striking a balance

There is a balance that exists in everything including film. A poor script or plot does not become good just because you add visual effects. This has been done before and a majority of the time, the strategy has only resulted in failure.

Think of it this way – if filmmaking was a basketball match, visual effects would be your offensive strategy; not your last minute defensive strategy to save face.

Don’t use the tool only because it’s available. Visual effects are complimentary. There are like accompaniments to a good script and great actors. When used in this manner, visual effects can create something wholesome.
If you were to go back and take a look at all the successful live action and animated films, you’d notice that they are popular not for their visual effects alone. They were popular because people could relate to the characters and the story.

Budget

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Image credits – Flikr

Another aspect to look at is your budget. Mainstream cinema can accommodate a heavy dose of visual effects to draw in a crowd. But, you don’t have that benefit as an indie filmmaker. So, you need to be even more careful with adding in visual effects.

Make sure your visual effect idea helps convey a message, rather than just impress the audience. Never rely on it as a tool for storytelling.

The only time an overdose of visual effects are forgivable is if you’re a visual effects artist trying to create a portfolio. Other than that, use it sparingly.

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