VFX Editors- The OTS View
At yFX, we want to celebrate the incredible contribution of our VFX Editors– Amit, Rajiv, Suraj, and Hemant whose technical wizardry and artistry can be felt behind every frame on the silver screen.
VFX Editors are the cornerstone of the post-production workflow. They are the link between the live-action directorial production team and the visual effects team. Responsible for maintaining a database, distributing, and incorporating VFX shots into the current edit, they ensure that the post-production teams have everything they need to deliver the film.
When does a VFX Editor’s work begin?
A VFX Editor's work begins while the movie is still conceptual. We put together the storyboard and previz edits for VFX-heavy sequences, which go through multiple iterations till the flow is locked. Using this rough animation as a base helps align the pre-production, production, and post-production teams on the director’s vision and the scope of work for budgeting and scheduling. Once all variables fall into place, the post-production work in the studio begins with the first sequence edit we receive from the production team.
What departments do VFX Editors work with?
Working in tandem with IT, pipeline, film editors, production, and post-production teams, we manage all the incoming and outgoing data. This includes efficiently communicating to the studio all changes in edit like re-shoots, length changes, and deletions, as well as going through hours of outtakes for that one missing plate or shot. Then we publish VFX pulls on the project management software so artists can be assigned shots and VFX production can manage and track the same.
As shots get published, we start to put together department or sequence-wise line-ups, for instance, so supervisors can review shots, discuss them creatively, and give feedback internally. An important aspect of this discussion is maintaining previous versions, which supervisors often ask to switch between to compare. This helps the team figure out how to place VFX elements realistically by studying aspects such as how the shot was lit and composed. We follow the same process for directorial reviews, after which the shots that have been approved are then incorporated into the current edit and passed to the film editorial.
What is the difference between Film Editors and VFX Editors?
Film Editors handle the visual storytelling of the film, focusing on the overall aesthetic and story structure. They find the best takes, arrange shots and trim footage to serve the narrative and shape its emotional impact, while working closely with the Director. VFX Editors handle the technical aspects of seamlessly syncing VFX with live-action shots to take the visuals of the film to a whole new level. Both roles are essential in post-production– with Film Editors crafting the cinematic experience, and VFX Editors ensuring the creative vision and visual effects work in harmony to create movie magic.
What are some skills a good VFX Editor needs to possess?
I think it is important to understand that our role is not restricted to being facilitators. The trademark of a VFX Editor is precision. You must have a keen eye for detail and be able to spot minuscule errors in shots and continuity. A VFX Editor is a master of the VFX pipeline. You have to be familiar with the functions, abilities and challenges of every department, in order to think beyond and creatively problem-solve. Often, we play a significant role in designing VFX-heavy edits. As VFX Editors, we have a unique awareness of the potential of a sequence and how to enhance its impact. A frame too long and the credibility may not hold, or by speeding up a shot, the drama is maximised. These skills help the VFX team deliver shots of the highest quality, within the specified time.
What tips would you give our readers who want to enter or grow in this field?
VFX Editors are all-rounders who must have strong technical knowledge, expertise in visual storytelling, be team players, and possess a creative bent of mind. We look for their passion for VFX and willingness to learn, update their skill sets, and stay informed on emerging technology. In terms of storytelling, it's a two-parter– they must understand how visuals can impact the viewer, and they must listen carefully in order to carry the Director’s vision through the story. This requires the ability to collaborate and communicate with all the departments, so everyone is aligned on the creative scope and vision. Beyond this, I believe that a VFX Editor’s most significant asset is a creative mind that goes beyond technical requirements. It sets the foundation for thinking quickly on your feet to solve problems, efficiency, and most importantly, accuracy.