The role of a VFX supervisor in Movies & Television Series
They are one of the most recognized professionals in the industry, or you can call them the backbone of VFX production, VFX supervisors play a pivotal role in production, and they handle various responsibilities that help make a project successful. If you are among those who are wondering what are the key roles of a VFX supervisor, and how can you become one, then you have reached the right spot. Here, we’re going to discuss everything that will help you become a rockstar VFX supervisor.
VFX production is never a walk in the park, it can take time, and it can be difficult at times, especially when you are working on some large-scale and high-end projects. It’s a process that takes a great deal of time, and it needs plenty of creative effort from different artists, from the concept artist to compositors, there are various creative people who play their roles. To add the required effects and charm to the shots, there can be dozens or even hundreds of digital artists who are going to make things happen, and it also depends on the overall goals of the project. Have a look at the cast and crew list of Stranger Things on Netflix, and you will figure out that there are more than a thousand people who are in the VFX department, from animation artists to 2D compositors and CG generalists, and matchmove artists to VFX produces, there are various creative minds behind it.
The one who plays a key role here and takes care of the entire VFX department is a VFX supervisor. They work as a very important link between the VFX department and the director of the project. So, this should not be a surprise to know that VFX artists are one of the highest-paid artists and their role is never easy.
Let’s have a look at some key responsibilities
VFX supervisors need to be great listeners and communicators, the reason is that they need to work with both artists and producers. Moreover, they need to be well aware of the expectations of the director, from the VFX department, accordingly, the VFX supervisor will create assignments for the artists, share the workload among the team members, and also align the entire team with the actual vision of the director. The entire project is more likely to fail if the VFX supervisor is not a good listener and communicator.
A VFX supervisor takes care of almost every step of the process from pre-production to post-production, They align all the work with the concept artists in the very beginning and establish the look and feel of the future visuals, and figure out how the final live-action footage is going to look like to make all those ideas come to life. VFX supervisor also makes the decisions regarding the tools that are going to be used by FX artists and how they are going to create all those proposed visuals. The VFX supervisor and the technical director will take care of the existing software that is not sufficient to meet the project’s needs.
Now, let’s talk about the principal photography, this is probably the most stressful yet the most exciting part of the VFX production. Here, the VFX supervisor works on these and takes care of the entire filming process, ensuring that all the shots are done properly, and they are ready for the next stage of editing that needs to be done by the VFX department. From the usage of green screens to lighting settings and other details, the VFX supervisor needs to ensure that the footage is flawless and that the ultimate goal of the project is something that is kept in mind. if any of the scenes become inconvenient to work with, then this will need extra editing, and there can be some extra expenses to complete the tasks.
Once this is done, it’s time for the post-production stage where the VFX supervisor is going to work on all the visual effects, adding them to the live-action footage with the help of FX artists. This is the stage where most of the VFX production takes place, VFX supervisor works with various people including compositors, lookdev artists, FX artists, creature artists, and more, and ensures that the project reaches its final stage. Once all these things are done, the VFX supervisor takes the responsibility to share the final output with the director.
Key skills you need to have
If you want to be a VFX supervisor, you need to have all the skills that a VFX artist possesses, and you also need to have several years of experience. Of course, there’s a lot to mull over and you need to have artistic as well as managerial skills, if you are someone who has been working exceptionally for more than 10 years as an artist, it may not be enough as companies would prefer someone who has leadership experience in VFX production. It doesn’t mean that you need to have a resume that mentions you have worked as a VFX producer in the past or you have plenty of years of experience as a CG or VFX supervisor, but you can stand out from the rest as a candidate if you have management and leadership background in VFX production, even if you have to lead a small team.
Other areas that you need to be proficient in include Houdini, Maya, Nuke, and you may also need to know about Unreal Engine. Some companies may give you more preference if you have solid coding skills, and as per the specific needs of the company, you may also need to have a degree in Computer Science, 3D Modeling, Film Studies, or other domains that are related. Hence, this should not be a surprise that the VFX supervisor job roles will include being an efficient organizer, someone who should be able to meet deadlines, a person with budget management skills, and one who has a deep understanding of lighting, photography, and scripting. Also, there can be some job profiles that will ask for visual storytelling, compositing, and editing.
How other VFX jobs are different?
You must be wondering that there’s a lot to mull over and there are too many roles and responsibilities that are needed to be taken care of, and you’re right. The same kind of roles and responsibilities you may find for a role of a CG supervisor, technical director, or VFX producer.
To help you understand this better, CG supervisors and VFX supervisors are more focused on artistry than the rest, VFX producers take care of all the managerial, legal, or financial matters and TDss do the programming in the very beginning.
If you’re wondering how VFX supervisors are different from CG supervisors, then you must know that the latter is responsible for only a part of visual effects that are created with the help of digital art tools. They may not be needed to be present at the filming site to take care of the filming process, they may not be needed to communicate with concept artists, and they’re more focused on computer imagery. So, they are supervisors in the end, but they take care of only a few things that take place in the post-production stage, in reality, everything that they do is visual effects inside a software application.