The idea for this weblog, came to me last week after giving my talk on this very subject at FMX.  I have been in visual effects for more than twenty years, and I have been thinking about the future of visual effects for more than ten years.

So what is VFX++?

In order to talk about VFX++ we need to talk a little bit about history.  Visual Effects, have been with us as long as we’ve been telling stories.  They are the ultimate visual prop.  They were originally shadow puppets around fires.  They are illusions.  They became the tool of magicians used to baffle the public, and ultimately they became an entertainment tool. 

The invention of the film camera in the nineteenth century allowed people to film the illusions and created a new medium for them.  A nice history of visual effects can be found here and here.

What we commonly call the visual effects industry will usually refer to the post 1992 industry, or after the mass market success of T2 and Jurassic Park.  I call this Visual Effects 1.0 because even though visual effects existed before this time, they were generally optical effects.  After T2 (I’m not going to talk about extremely specialized one-off projects such as Sherlock Holmes, Tron, or the Star Trek genesis effect, because digital visual effects were not in the public consciousness until T2 and Jurassic Park.) But the pervasiveness of computer graphics has all but obliterated this distinction, and now what we think of as visual effects are generally created with a computer.

When digital technologies first arrived on the scene, the first people to use them with any success were big optical turned digital effects houses.  This was the era of mainframe computers and hundred thousand dollar 3D programs. The technology belong to the same "wizards behind the curtains" that have always been the masters of the art.

However, the dominance of the traditional large facility didn’t last long.  The desktop computer, the explosion of the web, and the Internet in general changed everything.  Software and computing technology became accessible to everybody.  At the same time that graphics technology became available, new communicating tools also became available.  Suddenly you can create sophisticated visual effects on your home computer and share them over the web with your friends.

Welcome to the era of VFX ++

I run a visual effects company in Europe, and this is a subject I deal with each and every day.  In this weblog, I will try to expound on these ideas.  How can companies survive today?  What does this mean for the independent filmmaker?  It's an interesting journey.