Visual Effects in Film and the Visual Media Industry Today

Visual effects in film and visual media have a long history. One of the first accounts of visual effects dates back to 1878 with Eadweard Muybridge. In The Horse in Motion, Muybridge paved a path for early achievements in the success of animation. He was able to capture a horse’s hoofs in motion, showing how all four are off the ground at once while the horse is in motion. He captured this frame by frame. In addition, between 1884 and 1887, he could capture glimpses of clad women and men in motion, ascending and descending stairs in The Human Figure in Motion – Descending Stairs and Turning Around. These were huge achievements during this time.

Again, in 1889/1890, Thomas Edison’s assistant, William K.L. Dickinson made history by producing the first ever photographic film in the United States. The film is blurry; but, it was the first of its time created with a cylinder kinetoscope. Because of these achievements and many others, visual effects are now more realistic and limitless today.

BusinessWire suggests there are many leaders in the visual effects industry, including well-known artists such as John Textor. He is most known for his realistic, digital human creations, including the digital Tupac Shakir, which premiered at Coachella in 2012. Textor was also the Producer and Executive Producer of the 2013 film Ender’s Game, based on the acclaimed science-fiction book by Orson Scott Card. Much of his work has been on large feature films, including Tron: Legacy, Transformers, Real Steel, and Pirates of the Caribbean at World’s End.

The visual effects industry is huge. Known in the industry as VFX, it encompasses four main categories, including digital effects (digital FX or FX) – imagery manipulated or created from photographs; digital animation – computer graphics lighting, 3D, and modeling; matte painting or stills (on backgrounds); and live action effects – models or actors acting with blue or green screens. Most movies contain some visual effects, and the most popular movies of today contain them (e.g. The Avengers, Ender’s Game, Gravity).

The industry of visual FX continues to grow every day. It is used more than ever in films, visual games, photography, phone apps, and other mediums. The need for visual effects will continue to grow. Perhaps in the future, the effects will be more accessible to the public and a majority of commercials, films, and games will be entirely digital.

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