The 3 Phases of Film Production

The 3 phases of film production will be different for every studio, but the film industry typically follows the basic protocol in film creation. We’ll also go through which part the VFX artist comes in. Everything from crowd effects, blemish cover, sky replacement to changing tree colors, the VFX team contributes more than most people realize in every film – no matter how much visual effects a film may need.

The Pre-Production Phase

Storyboard created by Tyler Arnold (3D Animation & VFX for Film)

A ton of planning goes into the making of a film, this is what the film industry usually calls the “pre-production” phase. This is where the initial budget, storyboard and script are written, but they don’t always go according to plan. During the Production Phase, you’ll notice the storyboard shots may or may not line up entirely with the script. While we want our plans to reflect the best version of the film as possible to be on paper, what might have been in the script or storyboard may be cut during the Post-Production phase. This isn’t exactly where the VFX artist steps in to work their magic, but we need to know what kind of visual effects we need first – and the best way to do that is by starting with a storyboard and script.

The Production Phase

The Production phase may differ from studio to studio, but we’ll go over what is typical of higher-budget films, but keep in mind even that may vary. Depending on the studio, the team will create bids for the shots and VFX that would be needed for the movie. The company that wins the bid will meet with the team to see the most cost-effective way to come up with the effect that the studio is looking for. The chosen visual effect is then handed off to a VFX artist to accomplish the shot using visual effects programs, Nuke or After Effects or other industry software that our instructors use in our classroom.

The Post-Production Phase

Revisions go through the visual effects director until the final shot is approved. The approved shot is then sent to the editor to be put in the movie. This is where it can get tedious and the wait time can be affected during the film’s production phase. Typically, the average turnaround for any film can be expected between 3 – 6 months before distribution. The film editor will piece the film together and work closely with the director to finish a version of the director’s cut, the theatrical cut, and the deleted scenes.

Visual effects for film can vary for each project, but almost every film is in need of visual effects. If you’d like to learn more in-depth about the production of a film, and focus on the visual effects aspect of a film, we can help you get started in the right direction.