Visual effects (VFX)
Also known as: Editor
VFX editors work as the link between the film or TV production team, which shoots the live-action footage, and the VFX studio that does the visual effects. A VFX editor can be employed by a VFX studio or directly by the film or TV production company. The role varies depending on whether they are in-house (employed by the studio) or client-side (employed by the film or TV production company).
Client-side VFX editor:
Client-side VFX editors work on set, while the live-action footage is being shot. They check everything is being captured in a way that makes it possible for the VFX to be created and integrated effectively. They keep track of the director’s notes and make sure that the VFX editor employed by the VFX studio knows about any changes that will affect the way the VFX need to be created. The client-side VFX editor bring drafts of the shots together so that the director can see how they will look with the VFX incorporated and make sure the footage all comes together to create a cut of the film or TV programme that’s in keeping with what was signed off in previsualisation.
In-house VFX editor:
In-house VFX editors work closely with client-side VFX editors, but are responsible for ensuring that the VFX artists at the VFX studio have everything that they need to create their work.
While the project is being worked on, the VFX editor creates a workflow that allows the VFX supervisor to evaluate the VFX artists' work and provide feedback on the aesthetic and on the technical direction. As the client approves shots or versions, the VFX editor incorporates them into the current cut (edit) and oversees the passing of work back to the team that is editing the film or TV programme.
Client-side VFX editors work closely with the director, producers, editors in post-production and in-house VFX editors. In-house VFX editors work closely with a large range of staff across the VFX pipeline. They work directly under the VFX supervisor. They work closely with data input/output technicians, pipeline TDs and VFX producers to manage all incoming media and outgoing deliverables. They also communicate with the client-side VFX editor and the post-production editor of the film or TV programme.
VFX editor is a senior role so you will need to gain experience of both working in VFX production pipelines and doing editing work. There are a variety of routes into this job. You might want to start working as runner or assistant technical director in a VFX studio. Alternatively, you could find your way into the industry by working as a post-production runner in a post-production studio. Most VFX editors have a degree in computer graphics, animation or a related subject.
At school or college:
If you want to go to university A-levels or Highers in computer science, maths, art and design, art, photography, graphic design or graphic communication would all equip you well for this role. Or you might want to take the following Level 3 vocational qualifications:
If you want to go straight into a job or apprenticeship, the following Level 3 vocational qualifications will equip you:
Get an apprenticeship:
Apprenticeships are jobs with training. They’re a great opportunity to earn while you learn. NextGen Skills Academy offers VFX apprenticeships for school leavers. These involve a lot of learning on the job working in a VFX company.
If you can’t find an apprenticeship with a VFX company, it might be worth getting an apprenticeship in a related industry, which could give you some experience to help you find your way into VFX at a later point.
These are some apprenticeships that might be available throughout the UK:
Before taking any apprenticeship, check what you’ll be learning with your prospective employer and college, so you can be sure it will be giving you the skills you want. Go to how to become an apprentice to learn how to find apprenticeships in your region or approach companies directly.
Build a portfolio:
Learn how to use, and then experiment with, VFX programs and create a showreel that you can show to admissions tutors or employers. This is essential. Go to build your VFX portfolio to learn how. Watch ScreenSkills’ advice on VFX showreels. It’s really important to develop your appreciation for VFX. Make sure you’re familiar with what’s out there.
Get a degree:
Provided you have strong showreel and know VFX software, it’s not essential to get a degree to become a VFX editor, but it can help. Have a look at ScreenSkills’ list of recommended courses in VFX. We recognise courses with our ScreenSkills Select award where they offer training in the relevant software, dedicated time to building a portfolio and have strong links with the VFX industry.
Become a trainee:
Apply to be a post-production trainee with ScreenSkills’ Trainee Finder scheme.
Take a short course:
On the ScreenSkills website, we have a list of VFX courses that we either fund, support or have quality-marked.
Get to know people in VFX by attending events. Meet professionals and ask them questions about their work, while demonstrating interest and knowledge in the sector. Offer to provide them with your professional contact details and try to stay in touch with them. Go to how to network well to learn how to do this.
Search for jobs:
Research VFX companies you’d like to work for. Go to their websites and check if they are advertising for junior roles in the art or technical art department. Even if they aren’t, send in your CV and showreel and ask them to bear you in mind for future positions. Keep looking on job websites too. ArtStation is a good example of a site that includes job listings in animation, games and VFX (remember to filter its job listings by country). ScreenSkills offers some advice from professionals on how to approach animation and VFX employers.
Covers genres ranging from period dramas to epic fantasies screened at the cinema, on TV or on streaming sites
Combines art with programming as well as production, design and testing - the UK’s fastest growing entertainment industry
Creates the illusion of movement, includes computer-generated, stop-motion and hand-drawn animation
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