The trend of using hi-end visual effects (VFX) is picking up pace in Hollywood and everywhere. VFX software has become the go-to solution for creating stunning visual effects in movies and videos. In recent years, this exploitative use of visual effects software has helped professionals create, edit and manipulate the story in so many ways.
What is VFX Software?
VFX stands for visual effects software that is mainly used for creating, enhancing, or editing imagery. These effects are useful for industries like media and entertainment where capturing a real event is practically impossible. The VFX artist uses a bunch of digital tools and software to process a scene or imagery and add some visual effects to them for real-life experience.
For a more realistic look, they make use of original characters, objects, and surroundings. VFX software provides a cost-effective and quick way to create scenes that otherwise requires risky locations or a challenging unfavorable environment. As a result, users not only reduce the expenditure on actors and stuntmen but also avoid any mishap during the shoot.
What are the VFX Effects?
VFX effects are created by combining real footage with computer-generated imagery to create a scene, especially in action films. Several types of VFX effects can be created using specialized VFX software. Some of the common effects are:
- Bullet time or time-slicing will give an illusion of moving through a still moment in time.
- Digital compositing is blending layers from various elements together such that they appear to belong to the same scene.
- Stop motion animation makes the still objects appear to be moving on their own.
- Matte painting is creating a location or landscape by painters to give an illusion of the original place.
- Prosthetic makeup is done to give an illusion of some special character or wound or animal features through cosmetic effects.
There are many other effects used in VFX animations such as Chroma key, motion control photography, digital compositing, virtual photography, and computer-generated imagery.
How Can You Create Visual Effects as a Beginner
Visual effects make your work easy in many ways like creating video from live footage or altering a video. If you want to strengthen your brand identity with VFX or want to make a career in this field, then the qualifications required for you include animation experience along with outstanding creativity.
Understanding basic animation concepts like scaling and motion will be a merit if you want to start working with visual effects. Having knowledge of video production such as lighting and sound will be another advantage for beginners. Skills like drawing, visual aesthetics, real-world observation, mechanics movement, and photography will accelerate the learning process as a visual animation artist.
You can learn VFX animations either by going to school or at home by yourself. To enhance your skills start observing local events, start sketching, and watch animated movies.
Interested candidate can build a strong portfolio by obtaining a degree in animation or graphic designing.
List of 10 Best Free VFX Software for Beginners and Professionals
Free VFX Software List to Learn Making VFX Animations
Here’s the list of best free VFX software for free download. However, with some of these VFX visual editor software options, you will get a few free features while some will be available with the premium version.
Best For: Compositing and motion tracking
Blender is known for its built-in compositor that allows post-processing of the final results. Since it offers a production-ready camera and object tracking feature, you can edit your 3D scenes in various ways such as importing raw footage. It is free and suitable for freelancers as well as for commercial work. The built-in renders or ‘Cycles’ in the software gives realistic lighting and shading effects.
Features of Blender VFX Software (Download for Android)
- Allows matching of the lighting in the background scene.
- It is multi-threaded and allows full composting of images and videos.
- You can get a real-time preview of the footage.
- The sculpting feature is available.
- Matchmaking of the real camera motion is possible.
- Suitable for everyone who wants to create realistic visual effects.
Best For: 2D and 3D compositing. Suitable for YouTubers and Vloggers
Hitfilm Express is a visual effects software that comes with a set of professional VFX tools best suitable for gaming videos and films. An open source motion tracking platform, it is the best VFX software for PC that is available to everyone from beginners to seasoned YouTubers.
Features of Hitfilm Free VFX Software
- Comes with a built-in voice recorder.
- Free video tutorials available for beginners and learners.
- Suitable for both Windows and Mac.
- Easy Editing, titling, and visual effects.
- Easy adjustment of volume and addition of sound effects.
Best For: Texture and matte painters
Krita is one of the best VFX software for PC and can be used to paint comics or illustrations. It is free without any subscriptions or limits. It comes with more than thirty dockers to provide more functionality to the users. There are built-in vector tools for creating comic panels such as a bubble template.
Features of Krita Free VFX Software for Windows 7
- You can customize the layout according to the requirement.
- Allows you to create shortcuts for the most used tools.
- You can move the dockers or panels to customize the process or workflow.
- More than a hundred brushes available.
Best For: 3D artists, beginners, and seasonal professionals
4D Cinema action VFX software for free download comes with a variety of tools suitable for 3D artists. Its logically arranged interface helps the beginners to learn quickly with efficiency like a professional. It comes with various options like textures and parametric modeling. A ‘Take System’ is there that allows working with multiple versions of a single scene.
Features of 4D Cinema VFX Effects Software for Free Download
- Customizable layout according to the need of users.
- Free service packs available.
- All the features are properly tested before releasing for use.
- Flexible to even last-minute changes.
Best For: Broadcasts, 3D animation, visual effects, motion graphics
Fusion free VFX software for Mac and Windows is already in use in Hollywood movies and TV shows because of its wide range of effects and tools. From dramatic titles to visual effects, Fusion has many things to offer to an artist. You can easily create motion graphics using “vector shape tools” or personalize your workflow with its “node tree bookmarks” feature.
Features of Fusion Action VFX Software for Free Download
- You can easily save your compositions as a template.
- Editing a template is possible.
- Noise reduction and sharpening tools are available.
- Features like animation curve modifiers available for easy compositions.
- Sync Audio animations available to playback audio.
Best VFX Software to Create Stunning Visual Effects as a Professional
Here’s the list of some of the best VFX software for PC and mobile apps.
Best For: 3D animation, motion graphics, and VFX effects
Having its application found in creating animation, Autodesk Maya has been used in creating magic in films like Harry Potter, Kung Fu Panda, Half Blood Prince, etc. The software has also been used quite extensively in games like FIFA 09, Prince of Persia, etc. It is one of the best animation and VFX software available to us right now.
Maya is already being used in Hollywood. From creating sweeping landscapes to explosive battle combats, Maya has remained the top choice of creators in the 3D and VFX world. For its quick and easy animation, the software is popular among high quality VFX studios.
Features of Autodesk Maya Visual Effects Software
- Quick and easy to create blockbuster-worth special effects
- Simulates high-level details in the scenes where you need them
- Create realistically rigid and soft-body simulations
- Delivers high-quality production ready characters in lesser time
Pricing: ₹92,040/- per year. More details are available on the official website.
Best For: 3D modeling, texturing and painting
As a digital sculpting tool, ZBrush is used for creating hi-resolution models for video games and movies. It leverages the visual effect artists both resolution and space to make global or local changes.
Features of ZBrush Visual Effects Software
- Gives the mesh an appearance as if it is sculpted as a fine art
- Helps you focus on sculpting and ignore polygon distribution
- Provides more depth and details to your 3D picture
- Sculpt and render it in real time with accuracy and capture every stroke
Pricing: ₹62,650/- per year. More details are available on the official website.
Best For: Digital compositing and visual effects application
Nuke is also an important VFX animation software used for visual effects in movies like Black Swan, Avatar, etc.
It is a compositing tool that is customizable and versatile in use. The animation and VFX software is user friendly, and enables creative talent to explore and expand ideas. It comes with advanced plug-ins for 3D camera tracking, cleanup and corrections. The VFX video editing app also has a community and tutorials page that helps beginners with VFX learning.
Features of Nuke VFX Video Editing App
- Helps you track a moving camera for compositing
- Learn how to work with several 3D workflows in a scene
- Clean or create pictorial details on your character’s skin
- Adjust a final look in a matter of seconds without rendering the whole image
Pricing: ₹790, 860/- per year. More details are available on the official website.
Best For: Motion Graphics, looks and stylization
An Academy Award-winning planar tracking software for visual effects and post-production, Mocha is a GPU-accelerated planar tracking and object removal program with image stabilizations, 3D camera solver and advanced roto with edge snapping feature.
Mocha VFX video editing software has tools that enhance image editing, help in compositing a scene, video, or film. The special effects software also helps visual effects artists to follow the shots that simplify scene tracking for them especially for upheaval and moving shots.
Features of Mocha VFX Video Editing App
- You can add objects into scenes
- Remove things that you don’t want from a footage
- Helps you mask and track organic shapes
- Replace screen contents from a film/video sequence
- Allows you to insert 3D elements into the scenes
Pricing: ₹41650/- per year. More details are available on the official website
Adobe After Effects
Best For: Motion graphics and visual effects
Used as post-production software, Adobe After Effects is programming application software that has found its application in advertisements, TV projects, Hollywood movies etc. This visual effects software was used in Harry Potter’s enchantment spell scenes.
Adobe After Effects is a creative digital program that helps one in producing visual effects, motion graphics, and compositing application. It is the best VFX software for movie making, hi-end 3D games, and TV production. The software is primarily used for keying, compositing, tracking, and animation.
Features of Adobe After Effects Free VFX Software for Android
- Make interactive motion graphics and animations with data files
- Provides tools and features that assist users in making engaging videos
- You can create VR environments with its “Creative VR Environment”
- Makes animation of video objects and scenes simpler and quicker to do
Pricing: ₹20,100/- per year. More details are available on the official website.
Popular VFX Software Used in Movies for Creating Special Effects
A vast field in terms of opportunities in the media and entertainment industry, the scope of VFX isn’t limited to a certain animation tool or particular software. Today, to create a good scene or a great game, it takes several VFX artists to work together on different digital tools and software to create a good visualized shot.
Essentially, VFX is the most carefully controlled software that doesn’t have any live actions. But it is the most critical aspect of movie making and a game. Here is the list of most commonly used VFX software that are used for creating outstanding visual effects.
One popular VFX software for movies is Autodesk 3DS Max. It has been widely used in TV, films, interior designing and computer games. The VFX animation software has been primly used for making computer games like Demand for Speed, Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, etc. When it comes to movie making, this VFX software has been used in movies like 2012, Iron Man, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Avatar, and Transformers.
At last, we would like to reiterate that all best in class VFX software have in common, is their ability to mold itself to the requirements of the clients. The software should be able to deliver a pragmatic, realistic picture to the viewer so that a picture can look more realistic, seamless, and not a copy-paste job. It should be able to give those nuances and details to the picture so that it doesn’t look like made up.