The Future of VFX: Sci-Fi Becomes Reality | ActionVFX

The Future of VFX: Sci-Fi Becomes Reality

The Future of VFX: Sci-Fi Becomes Reality

Since the genesis of filmmaking, visual effects have evolved to meet the bigger visions of directors and studios and the growing expectations of movie goers. The industry has been a public display of technology, science, and art for well over 40 years.

So what does the future look like?

While we can only speculate what science and filmmakers will together come up with, it is easy to look at the current trends and imagine where it could lead us.

Mo-cap is here to stay.

The incredible technology behind Motion Capture (Mo-cap) has led to the creation of memorable characters such as Gollum, Caesar the ape, and Jake Sully of Avatar. 

Mo-cap gives filmmakers the ability to record an actor’s movements and create a series of digital points that they can then wrap a mesh around This enables them to create a 3D character that responds to the actor’s movement.

While early attempts at this looked fake and stiff, the technology has improved so much and is now our era’s version of prosthetics and animal costumes. 

This is a part of filmmaking that is seamlessly blending the unbelievable with the believable by taking away much of the need for hand-animated characters and allowing instead an actor to bring the character to life.

Will actors be put out of a job?

The short answer is, no. With the rise of motion capture and the advances in CGI, some have questioned whether or not human actors will even be needed in the future to make movies.

The simple truth remains however, that movies have always been centered around living and breathing actors. More and more impossible shots will be planned and attainable with CGI doubles, but I don’t think we will see a day when actors are on the streets because the industry decided they could be replaced entirely. 

After all, movies are about making you care about the protagonist in the story and relating to him or her on a personal level. The most relatable thing in the universe to humans is other humans.

Will Virtual Reality meet the big screen?

The ability to create 360 degree environments has been around for several years now, and is currently limited to your tablet or VR headset. 

As a movie maker and enthusiast, I would love to see this immersive 360 meet the big screen, but I think it is far-fetched at this point, with no major companies willing to dump the money into creating that much of either a 3D environment or painstakingly shooting a scene with 360 cameras. 

Not to mention the processing power it takes to render out such a beast. This may someday be a reality, but I would estimate it will be later than sooner.


The VFX giant ILM has an entire division called the ILMxLab that is dedicated to pioneering and creating new technology to bridge the gap between virtual and reality. This includes movies for tablets that allow you to pause the movie, enter the movie as a first person character and explore different outcomes of that story. 

As well as immersive VR with CG elements that respond to the environment or room you are standing in. However, probably the most exciting technological achievement is their creation of real time holograms, and this is the effect that I believe we will see in the movie theaters very soon.

With the technology behind 3D glasses improving rapidly, it is slowly becoming a thing of the past in the sense that watching a movie in 3D no longer stuns audiences.

Movie makers have always looked for ways to bring in the audience, so in the future you can expect to see theaters equipped with a new ability to project holograms that fly around the room and into or away from the screen. Imagine watching the next space saga and having a star fighter fly right over your head and into the screen.

Too futuristic? Maybe. But probably not, and it will be awesome.

The future of the industry will always be uncertain, shaky, and scary at times. By the same token that we have no idea what is coming, it is exciting to know what is possible and to dream of what will be created and what we can create.

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