A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Visual Effects Pipeline

Are you a visual effects artist or aspiring to become one? If so, this blog post is for you! We’ll be exploring the steps in a visual effects pipeline and how they come together to create stunning visuals. Whether you’re working on films, commercials, or video games, understanding these processes can help take your projects to the next level.


Visual effects (VFX) are the various processes by which imagery is created and/or manipulated outside of the context of a live-action shoot. VFX pipelines refer to the series of steps that are taken to create these digital effects for film and television. From pre-production to post-production, there are several stages where VFX and CGI are used. In this blog post, we will take an in-depth look at the steps involved in a typical VFX pipeline.

What is the visual effects pipeline?

The visual effects pipeline is made up of several stages, each with its distinct tasks and roles. The pre-production stage is where the project is planned out and storyboarded. Next, the production stage is where all the elements of the shot are gathered and used to create the visuals. 

Finally, in post-production, the shots are composited and any additional effects are added. To learn more about post-production, click here.

Throughout the process, a variety of people are involved, from concept artists to animators to compositors. Every step of the pipeline is critical for the success of a project. With careful planning and attention to detail, studios can create stunning visuals that bring characters and worlds to life.

Visual Effects Pipeline Essentials: 3D Animation

To fully understand the VFX process, it is important to have a clear understanding of the pipeline workflow and best practices used by VFX studios. Matte painting is an integral part of the pipeline, and it's used to create realistic backgrounds and environments for the VFX shots. In the post-production stage, a majority of the VFX work is done, including the integration of visual effects with live-action footage and the final compositing. 

However, the production phase is also crucial, and it's where the natural movement is captured using motion capture cameras.

A scalable VFX pipeline is essential for a VFX studio, as it allows for the efficient creation of complex effects. It's a system of controls that manages the flow of data, software preferences, and techniques used by VFX artists. There are many different VFX software options available, such as After Effects, Maya and Houdini, and it's important to choose the right one for the project. Here is the list of the Best software for VFX which is trending in the 2023 market.

In this blog post, we have discussed everything you need to know about the VFX pipeline, including the different stages and techniques used by VFX artists. Read on about these techniques in depth.

We have also highlighted the importance of understanding the VFX process and the role of digital applications and animation techniques in creating realistic visual effects. The pipeline helps to manage the flow of data and software preferences, and it's essential for creating high-quality visual effects.

People Involved in the VFX Workflow

The people involved in a VFX pipeline are just as important as the steps in the process. The core team of a visual effects project typically consists of a VFX supervisor, a VFX producer, and a lead artist. There are many opportunities related to a career you can look into.

Other individuals may include modelers, look dev artists, animators, TDs, and visual effects artists. The VFX supervisor is responsible for the creative vision and technical execution of the project, while the VFX producer manages the budget, timeline, and scheduling of the entire project. 

The lead artist designs the look and feel of the project, while the other members provide specialized skills for each step of the process. It is essential for everyone involved to collaborate closely to create stunning visuals.

Understanding the VFX Pipeline: Best Practices, Workflow, and relevant software

The VFX pipeline is a crucial aspect of visual effects work and understanding it is essential for creating high-quality visual effects. The pipeline refers to the workflow and techniques used by a team of artists to create visual effects. A VFX team often works alongside the animators, modelers, and compositors to ensure that the final product is of the highest quality and meets the creative vision of the director.

The pipeline includes several stages, starting with pre-production, where a team of artists creates rough animations and simulations of the visual effects to guide the director and the VFX team. Then, 3D animation and motion capture is used to create realistic movements for the 3D models and characters. Green screen is used to capture live-action footage that will be used in post-production to integrate the visual effects. Finally, lighting artists work to create the final lighting and shading for the visual effects, and the final frames are rendered.

It's important to note that the VFX pipeline is an ever-evolving process, with new techniques and technologies being developed all the time. The pipeline is also highly customizable, with different VFX studios using different software and techniques. It's essential for VFX artists to stay up to date with the latest advancements in technology and to be familiar with a variety of software options. 

The Stages of VFX Production: From Pre-production to Post-Production Pipeline

The VFX pipeline is a complex process that encompasses a wide range of stages, from planning to production to post-production. In pre-production, a team of artists creates visual representations of the visual effects, using storyboards and animatics to guide the production team. During the production phase, a team of VFX artists, animators, and motion capture technicians capture the live-action footage, natural movements, and other elements that will be used in post-production.

In post-production, the majority of the VFX work happens. VFX artists use a variety of software and techniques to integrate visual effects with live-action footage and create the final composite. This stage also involves a lot of fine-tuning and adjustments to ensure that the visual effects blend seamlessly with the live-action footage.

One of the key aspects of the VFX pipeline is the use of special effects programs and digital applications to create visual elements. The VFX team uses mass-produced software as well as custom software to create the visual elements. They also use a variety of tools to calculate skin weights, lighting, and other elements that are necessary for creating realistic visual effects.

It's important to note that the VFX pipeline is highly dependent on the technical demands of the workflow, and the VFX team often works closely with the production team to ensure that the visual effects are applied correctly. The pipeline also helps to keep the project on schedule and within budget. By understanding the different stages of the VFX pipeline and the techniques used, you will have a better understanding of how visual effects are created and how to work with a VFX team.


Previsualization is the next step in the VFX pipeline. It involves creating a low poly 3D representation of the scene using the storyboard and script as a guide. This helps the VFX team to plan out and practice the shots they will need to achieve the desired effect. It is also used to test out different camera angles or shots before actually filming. Previsualization helps to save time and money by allowing the team to get a better understanding of what will be needed on set.

Layout and production design

Layout (also known as production design) is the process of creating the overall look and feel of a movie. This includes setting the look and style, choosing the color palette, design of props, and other aspects. It also includes creating a storyboard that outlines the overall concept of the film. This step is critical to ensure that the visuals are consistent throughout the movie. Additionally, it helps to establish a timeline for when certain scenes should occur and how they should be edited. The layout process also helps to inform other stages of production such as previsualization, animation, research and development, and others. Additionally, it guides artists on how to create assets that will fit within the established visual style.

Last Stages of Production: Research and Development

Research and Development is the first step in any visual effects pipeline. A team made up of artists, technicians, and engineers will work together to determine the best technological approach for the film's effects. This involves developing tools, techniques, and processes that will be used throughout the production. The team also generates tests that demonstrate a potential look, style, or piece of technology that can be incorporated into the final product. This stage helps to ensure that the visual effects process is as efficient and cost-effective as possible.

Modeling and Asset Creation

Mieszko Lacinski, a professional Texture Artist/3D Generalist, has experience creating assets for movies. This step of the VFX pipeline involves creating 3D models of props, environments, buildings, weapons, and vehicles. The environment of Keyshot is an industry-standard nowadays, and you can get it from 3DHEVEN.

After creating the 3D layout, the team will begin to optimize the model to meet industry standards for rendering. This requires a great deal of research and development to ensure that everything looks as realistic as possible.

Concept art and design

Concept art and design are arguably one of the most important phases of pre-production as it defines the game's art direction and the initial concept. A concept artist works to develop a visual representation of the film's narrative through drawings, paintings, and illustrations. Once complete, these designs will be used for reference throughout the rest of the VFX pipeline. Additionally, this phase will also help determine the overall art style of the film. This includes decisions on color palettes, textures, and details that will be used in the rest of the production process.


The next step in the visual effects pipeline is rigging. This involves adding a skeletal structure to the 3D models so they can move realistically. Rigging requires expertise in the form of specialized animators and technical directors, who are responsible for the process of combining deformers and other tools to create motion and flexibility within the characters. Once the skeleton structure is set up, the model is ready for animation.


Animation is the process of creating the motion of characters and objects in a scene. Animators use specialized software to create keyframes and motion paths to create the movements and actions of characters and objects. Animators also must consider the timing, weight, and flow of movements to ensure that they look realistic. After the animation is complete, it is sent to the compositing department, where it is blended with live-action footage and other elements.

FX and Simulation

FX and Simulation involve the use of physics-based systems to create realistic motion and effects. Rigging is an important part of this process, as layers of bone, flesh, and skin need to be simulated. Animators then take over to animate the character, while FX artists work alongside them to ensure these simulated elements look and move realistically. After this, the Lighting and Rendering step takes place, where the scene is illuminated and rendered out so it can be composited in the final step of the VFX pipeline.

Lighting and rendering

Lighting and rendering are the next steps in the VFX pipeline. Lighting is the process of adding light sources to a scene, giving it a realistic look and feel. Rendering is the process of taking all the 3D assets and turning them into a still or animated image. This includes adding color, texture, shadow, and other elements to make the scene appear realistic. It's an important step that requires a great deal of skill and experience to get right, so it may be hard for you if you are new, however, 3D HEVEN makes it easier by providing these textures to you for free.


Compositing and Finishing (sometimes called 2D or 2D VFX) is a crucial part of any VFX project and is used across films, TV, and commercials. It is the final step in the visual effects pipeline. A compositor takes all the elements of the project, such as live footage, scene preparation data, matte paintings, and various VFX renders, and layers them together to create the final image. This process requires a great deal of skill and experience to ensure that everything is blended seamlessly and with a natural look. Special techniques are used to make sure objects are placed correctly in 3D space, motion blur is applied to moving elements, camera movement is simulated, and so on. Once completed, the image is ready for final color grading and delivery.


Visual effects are a complex process and require the collaboration of many different departments and professionals. From storyboarding and research to modeling, animation, and compositing, the VFX pipeline encompasses a range of different tasks that help to bring a movie or television show to life. With the right production team and workflow, the visual effects can be stunning and truly amazing.

The visual Effects Pipeline is a crucial part of the VFX workflow, it is the process by which VFX artists create and integrate visual effects into live-action footage, animation, or video games. It's an essential element in the VFX work, as it ensures that the final product is of the highest quality and meets the creative vision of the director. The pipeline includes several stages, starting with pre-visualization, where VFX artists create rough animations and simulations of the visual effects to guide the director and the VFX team. Then, 3D animation and motion capture is used to create realistic movements for the 3D models and characters. A green screen is used to capture live-action footage that will be used in post-production to integrate the visual effects. Finally, lighting artists work to create the final lighting and shading for the visual effects, and the final frames are rendered.

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