The difference between jaw-dropping movie effects and the motion graphics made by a budding artist comes down to one thing: details. The real world is full of detail we take for granted and rarely articulate, but it is the job of visual effects artists and supervisors to recognize where real-world detail is missing in a shot and then know how to add it.
The basic principle behind visual effects is that we are trying to replicate how each shot would look if it had simply been a real-world event captured on film. For example, when shooting a cruise ship seen from the air, a camera will shake as the helicopter it is mounted to hits turbulence and wind blows against the lens. Nature can sometimes be a nuisance, but it is unavoidable. So in creating a computer-generated boat, these motions also need to be added to the virtual camera to achieve movie-like realism. Such "imperfections" won't hurt your beautiful computer graphics, they will sell them.
Another unavoidable fact about movies is that they are always made with camerascameras that capture light, light that exposes film. So we need an understanding of light and film to perform our job of creating images that could have come from the real world. Because this is a matter of physics, the details can get pretty technical and the points they make may seem trivial, but grasping them will help turn a shot that looks great into one mistaken for real.
This is a chapter about details.
Section I. Working Foundations
The 7.0 Workflow
Selections: The Key to Compositing
Optimizing Your Projects
Section II. Effects Compositing Essentials
Rotoscoping and Paint
Effective Motion Tracking
Film, HDR, and 32 Bit Compositing
Section III. Creative Explorations
Working with Light
Climate: Air, Water, Smoke, Clouds
Pyrotechnics: Fire, Explosions, Energy Phenomena
Learning to See