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What Does a VFX Editor Do?

Jonny Elwyn

What is it like to work as a visual effects editor on an animated or feature film?  Discover a real-world perspective from industry pros!

Judith Allen was VFX Editor on the recent Aardman animation Pirates! (you may recognize Aardman as creators of the popular Wallace and Grommit series).  I watched Pirates! on the plane from SFO to JFK and I thoroughly intend on buying as soon as I can as it was delightfully hilarious in a very British fashion.  But I digress…let’s get down to talking about working in visual effects!

If you’ve ever wondered what a minute by minute view into a VFX Editors world might look like Judith has kindly written up an extremely detailed account of a typical day on an animated feature film. This will give anyone interested in a career in animation, film editing or visual effects a realistic view of the day-to -day nitty gritty:

0930 – The working day begins. My assistant begins negotiations with the floor to make sure that VFX get our 10am time in the viewing theatre for our shot approvals. I update some spreadsheets on the network to reflect the shots which I loaded into the Baselight earlier, with any notes which came through from the floor at the time they were published about take choices (sometimes they film options to decide on at a later date, sometimes two versions are needed for international purposes, action can be split across several plates on greenscreen – there are many possibilities).

For a fascinating peek into what it’s like to have a career in visual effects read all of Judith’s Day In The Life of a Visual Effects Editor.

How to get started in Visual Effects

Atomic Fiction, the visual effects team behind work on films such as Looper, Flight and Transformers: Dark of the Moon, have kindly written up blog post with a ton of great advice for those seeking to break into the visual effects industry.

The advice from Atomic Fiction to those looking to get a job in the VFX industry is in part intensely practical:

In this industry, attention to detail makes a world of difference.  Get all your applications in order.  Print up some snazzy business cards and hand them out to every industry contact you meet.  If you have a website or demo reel make sure that everything is polished.

And also very grounded in the reality of the current state of the visual effects industry:

you may have to settle at some point.  Whether it’s a crappy job at an awesome company or a decent job at a company that is less than ideal, you’ll find that some less desirable jobs are a lot easier to land and they will look good on your resume.

All in all, it’s a great post with a lot of sound advice from a visual effects team who really do know what they’re talking about. If you really want to make it, persevere until you do!

Assistant on a Hollywood Feature

What is it like to work in visual effects on a hollywood blockbuster

Anthony Snitzer worked for five weeks as a VFX PA on The Avengers and he shares his experiences in an entertaining and detailed online journal. For yet another peek into the real world of working on a blockbuster then check out Anthony’s blog.  His account gives great insight into what a visual effects editor does (much of it as not near as glamorous as you might think!).

August 1st, first day.

paperwork. tour of offices.

Got in empty office. Made sure things were set up according to diagram.

Vacuumed, cleaned.

August 17th

slow day in the office, so Peter Sjolander invited me out to the splinter unit that was shooting a crowd of people running out of a building which explodes.

watched Peter type in all the data that’s needed by VFX into his iPad. all the camera data, such as lens, f-stop, height, angle, and distance from cam to subject.

I got to hold the spheres in front of the 3 cameras after the explosion for reference.

Do you work in the Visual Effects industry?
Share your experiences and thoughts in the comments!