Special effects animators help motion picture, television, advertising, and game producers to achieve stunning visual action sequences or backdrops while saving money. Special effects were added to Hollywood movies as early as in the 1920s as directors attempted to portray the world of the imagination that could otherwise not be photographed. Today, special effects animation is a commonplace element in films, videos, and games -- often becoming the centerpiece of the project, replacing live actors.
Computer-generated images (CGI) are so commonplace in rock videos, television shows, and feature-length motion pictures, that the viewing audience takes them for granted as "reality". CGI creations have produced seemingly real dinosaurs, spaceships, frightening monsters and, more recently, exploding planes, cars, and helicopters. In the popular film Titanic, much of the "water" was created on a computer.
Special Effects Animators rely on a wide set of tools to create their illusions. Today's animators are trained on state-of-the-art digital rendering and animation tools, blue screen methodology, motion-capture, and morphing -- as well as in time-tested, historical techniques including stop-action photography, matte painting, and rotoscoping.
The entertainment industry often employs special effects animators to repair glitches in filmed action sequences or in the restoration of old, endangered motion pictures. A skillful effect can make or break the illusion in the work. Animators also work on educational, military, and medical training projects, creating processes and worlds unseen by the human eye or ones that are too expensive and too difficult to photograph.