VFX VS CGI: Which is better in 2022?

By March 16, 2022April 29th, 2022VFX
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Let’s face it: technology has eternally changed everything, regardless of how you look at it. Humanity has invented and done things that were once considered science fiction due to exponential technological growth. Consider the differences between today’s films and games and those created 30 years ago. Yes, the use of visual effects and computer graphics in films and games has transformed the entertainment sector. These advancements have allowed for the creation of some of the world’s most successful films. What is the distinction between VFX and CGI, though? Or, to put it another way, which is preferable?

As a trusted VFX company with the top 3% of visual effects artists for hire, we have created this blog to highlight the major distinctions between VFX and CGI.

Let’s start by understanding the basic definitions of VFX VS CGI…

Definitions [VFX VS CGI]

What is VFX?

What is VFX?

Visual effects, abbreviated as VFX, can be accomplished in three ways. It’s possible to combine two or more live-action clips using computer processing. For videos, you can make entirely computer-generated graphics. Live photos can also be combined with on-screen imagery to create the necessary realistic environment.

The environments created are either too difficult and dangerous to shoot in real life, or they are worlds that do not exist. Computer graphics are used to simulate these effects. Moving images, which are impossible to capture during live-action filming, can be used in this situation. The process usually happens after the main image capture or in post-production.

Exceptional movies made with VFX:

  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  • Inception
  • Interstellar
  • Lord of the Rings

Here’s an example of a VFX video made by Communication Crafts:

What is CGI?

What is CGI?

Even though it is a subset of VFX, CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) is a stand-alone procedure that can be performed without the use of visual effects. Everything that is digitally made on a computer platform is referred to as CGI. This design might be utilised for use in art and print media, as well as films, videos, games, animation, and short advertisements.

Though the word still refers to 2D models, CGI entails modelling 3D objects and producing visuals from them. CGI has evolved into a more complicated name for 3D computer graphics.

Exceptional movies made with CGI:

  • The Lion King
  • Game of Thrones
  • Avatar
  • Many Disney Movies

Types of Visual Effects (VFX)

Types of Visual Effects (VFX)


Live-action effects are the creation or manipulation of images that do not physically exist in the real footage. A green or blue screen is utilised in the background to accomplish this since these two hues are on opposing extremes of the colour spectrum and do not match any colour tone of human skin. This enables richer and higher-quality effects to be created without interfering with the original film.

CGI (Computer Generated Imagery)

CGI (Computer Generated Imagery)

CGI, or Computer-Generated Imagery, is a subset of visual effects. CGI is most commonly referred to as 3D VFX in movies, and it entails the fabrication of 2D or 3D objects and other imagery. CGI is primarily concerned with 3D modelling, which is the process of producing a three-dimensional depiction of objects and surfaces that do not exist in reality. Avengers and Lord of the Rings are outstanding examples of what strong VFX and CGI can do.


Compositing is the process of integrating multiple visual elements or images to make them appear as if they are in the same area. Chroma keying is another name for this method. Chroma keying entails shooting with a green screen, which is then replaced with the appropriate environment by VFX artists (known as compositors in this case).

The post-production phase of filmmaking is where compositing takes place. This approach is used by VFX artists to make objects appear in locations other than the filming set (e.g., a mountain). It’s useful when filming in these locations is either too expensive or too difficult.

Motion Capture

Motion Capture

Another advanced form of visual effects is motion capture, which captures the movement of an element. These motions are then sent to a computer, where they are processed using specialist software. The actor dons a motion-capture outfit that has specific markers and dots that the camera follows. The actor’s face is likewise coated in numerous dots, allowing the camera to record the actor’s facial reactions. The movements are then applied to a computer-generated 3D model by VFX artists.

The motion capture technology is so good that it can also record the actor’s facial expressions, albeit this is referred regarded as “performance capture” rather than “motion capture.” The filmmakers have complete creative flexibility thanks to this innovative filmmaking approach.

Also read: How to Hire the Best Motion Graphics Designers?

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Characteristics [VFX VS CGI]

Characteristics of VFX

VFX Timing

In films, the timing and method of achieving an effect are key. Perfect timing is required for visual effects to have a meaningful impact on the plot. While visual effects are added after the production is completed, they are meticulously planned during the construction phase.

Live-Action Effects

These entail putting things on stage and editing them via green or blue screens, with green being the most common. Green and blue are thought to be at the opposite end of the colour spectrum, from red to orange, and are hence unrelated to skin tones. This means there will be less interruption when keying people on screen, which is the objective.

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Matte Painting

Matte painting is the technique of getting a single picture for the needed output. To do this, the software is used to merge and alter a variety of photos and objects.

Digital Animation and Compositing

Digital animation comprises particle effects, rotoscoping, and digital background sets. The practice of merging visual elements from several sources into a unified single image is known as compositing or chroma keying. This results in an illusion that all those elements came from the same scenario.

Rotoscoping is the process of creating a mask for a specific part of the animation. This is done so that the element can be detached and placed on a different backdrop or set of colours. Particle effects, on the contrary, are employed for explosions, realistic smoke, fire, and other risky or intangible events.

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Crafting 3D Models

Visual effects are created using computer-generated imagery (CGI). 3D models help bring film plots to life, and only CGI can achieve this. Others argue that it is currently difficult to create visual effects without using computer-generated images.

Motion Capture

Motion capture is the method of documenting the movements of objects and materials. These clips are then employed in the final step of the process, which is done with the help of specialised software like Motion Builder.

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Also read: Harness the Power of Motion Graphics – A Boon for Business Promotion

Characteristics of CGI

Impossible into Possible

Computers provide the ability to create effects and images that cannot be achieved any other way. Not only are these effects conceivable, but they can also deliver an ex. For example, Toy Story, released in 1995, was the first entirely animated film that children absolutely adored.

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Standardized & Top-Quality Quality

Given qualified technical personnel, the use of computers usually adds to a high standard of quality. Visual effects combined with computer-produced visuals are better and easier to control in films than physical effects. In comparison to the latter, this method is also far safer.

Popular & Useful in Various Fields

In truth, on-screen imaging isn’t restricted to the film business. CGI is used by engineers and architects to make architectural maps, 3D models, and blueprints. Integrated CGI outputs can also be used to create educational video segments.

Wireframe Models

Wireframe models are the building blocks used in CGI. These models have a time-saving feature that allows them to be assigned to any type of setup at any time. CGI may be reused after it has been generated, eliminating the need to develop libraries and content repeatedly.

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Influence and benefits in Film Industry [VFX VS CGI]

The Influence and benefits of VFX

Endless Possibilities

The only limit to filmmaking using VFX is one’s own creativity. VFX has opened up new options for artists and directors to express themselves fully. It has allowed performers to travel to space, aliens to conquer Earth, and filming in virtually inaccessible locations. Thanks to VFX, the possibilities for what you may create are unlimited.

Rapid Growth of the Film Industry

Technology, like any other business, is always changing. VFX in movies is always improving, and it’s growing better with each passing year. In every way, the visual effects in 1990s films differ greatly from those in today’s films. Furthermore, the better the visual effects in a film, the more likely it is to be a box office success. Take, for example, Avatar and Avengers, both of which include outstanding visual effects and are among the highest-grossing pictures in cinema history.

The velocity at which technology advances is simply astounding. Visual effects in movies are only going to grow better as computers become more powerful and efficient. Even if today’s VFX is considered to be near-perfect, nobody knows the new upgrades and possibilities the future holds.

Filming Is Now Easier Than It Has Ever Been

As previously said, visual effects have enabled filming in locations where it would not have been viable otherwise. The filmmaking process has gotten less physical, and entire films can now be shot in a single location.

Influence & benefits of CGI

Exceptionally high-quality outcomes

With adequate hardware and skilled employees, visual effects with Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) result in hypnotic photos with exceptional attention to detail and overall quality. Anyone would fall head over heels with a superb combination of high-quality CGI and professional primary image capture.

Efficient in terms of both time and money

At any time, the same 3D models can be updated and reused. This is because the CGI is created using wireframe models, which allow for easy editing and eliminate the need to construct entire libraries of materials from start anytime CGI is necessary. Furthermore, CGI might save a lot of time spent travelling to different settings for shooting. It’s so effective that you don’t even need a green screen to use CGI, saving even more time and money.

Manipulation of the Scene

Artists have complete creative control over every visual aspect of a finished shot. CGI can change the scenery, change an actor’s appearance, or boost the shot’s overall detail. All of this without going over budget, thanks to CGI’s capabilities.

Also read: Whiteboard Animation Video – 9 Easy Hacks – Don’t miss out!

Disadvantages [VFX VS CGI]

Drawbacks of VFX

Excessive VFX can be harmful.

“Film Erosion” is a term used to describe the process of destroying a film.
Using too many visual effects without coordinating them with the real environment might make a scene appear strange and unreal. Although VFX has improved with time, there is always a potential for improvement. World-famous studios, such as Disney, take special care of this. They don’t rely primarily on visual effects to make the scene appear more genuine. Even However, not everyone is impressed by VFX; some individuals prefer the actual thing and believe that VFX is overused. Furthermore, VFX-based stunts cannot match the intensity of real-life stunts.


It can be pricey to set up green screens, put performers in motion capture suits, and hire world-class VFX artists. Even a large investment in visual effects does not ensure a high return; the film Monster Trucks is an excellent example of this since it lost over $100 despite using best-in-class visual effects. Furthermore, because VFX cannot be used alone (without genuine footage), the producers must pay a large amount of money in addition to the actors’ compensation.

Making Changes in the Primary Shoot is Difficult

Because VFX in movies necessitates extensive planning, it’s difficult to make adjustments to pre-planned live takes. This function is filled by a special visual effects director who is in charge of the film’s visual effects, therefore it is important for the living-take director and VFX director to stay in constant communication.

Drawbacks of CGI

Influences the entire film’s originality

CGI’s outstanding time and cost-effectiveness have led to an overabundance of CGI in Hollywood films. In fact, certain studios have been criticized by the public solely for this purpose (e.g. Marvel Studios). Viewers are aware that the film’s elements are primarily CGI, which influences the entire impact of the film. This is something that well-known filmmakers like “Christopher Nolan” specifically address. That is why they do not overuse CGI in their films. Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet,” which has a scenario of an airliner crashing and exploding, is the most current example of such direction.

Exorbitant Hardware Prices

When making the movie, CGI may be incredibly cost-effective, but it cannot compensate for the initial costs that CGI necessitates. Complex rendering technologies such as ray-tracing, which are resource-intensive, are used in CGI. In ray tracing, for example, light is mapped for each item in the scene 24 times per second. For rendering, studios like Disney must use extremely expensive supercomputers. You now understand why Disney films with primarily CGI and several voice actors cost hundreds of millions of dollars to make. Even a 10- to 15-minute clip of a CGI-based film can cost over a million dollars.

Extremely challenging

Producing CGI isn’t as simple as you may assume; it takes people with extraordinary talents and experience to pull it off. When it comes to CGI, perfection is key; having failed to do so would make the scene look completely false and unrealistic, which will disconnect the audience regardless of how fantastic the tale is.

Furthermore, the software used to create CGI is extremely demanding. Learning and mastering such technology is a steep hill to climb and takes years of effort. Furthermore, employing somebody with these skills can be prohibitively expensive. Such people are also exceedingly difficult to come by, making CGI even more tiresome.

Final Thoughts

Even while CGI is technically a part of VFX, the two are completely separate. VFX works with the real world or the initial picture capture, whereas CGI is a stand-alone technique. It all ultimately boils down to the viewers in the end. And, given the current state of technology, both VFX and CGI-based films tend to function similarly well in terms of capturing global attention. Rather than putting VFX and CGI against one another, a precise combination of the two can provide incredible results. Real characters with visual effects, on the other hand, appear to have a greater influence on the audience than pure CGI ones.

If you require further assistance regarding VFX, feel free to contact us!

Communication Crafts offers top-tier VFX artists for hire, delivering unique animated videos for brands that have helped them successfully increase ROI and conversions.

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Looking for top-tier VFX artists?

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