VFX Blog Post 1 – Genre/Tradition


For my production piece I plan on creating a scene that would be used as a cutscene in a video game, perhaps as a form of flashback to past events. As such I will be doing the majority of my visual effects in the Unreal Engine which is now arguably more common to have In-Engine cutscenes as opposed to Pre-Rendered. Making my cutscene In-Engine means that I will effectively be able to see the final result of a shot when compositing it without render time when compared to After Effects which requires the final product to be rendered at the end.

Pre-Rendered cutscenes have to be rendered at a specific resolution, often multiple times, as for example when playing a game on PC, a player can choose what resolution to play at, tweaking various values to change the quality of the video. When it comes to a cutscene one of many rendered cutscenes will be played and can often look different to the base game due to various video options the player can change. Byford (2019) talks about how jarring it is to go from high resolution gameplay to low resolution compressed footage and not only does this difference between the base game and cutscene cause a disconnect and lose the player their immersion but it also takes up a large amount of space in the game files due to multiple renderings.

In-Engine cutscenes however will generally use the same video settings as the base game, meaning there is no disconnect between the two and no need to store multiple renders of the cutscene.


The genre I have chosen is (somewhat dark) fantasy, partly due to my personal interest in magic and fantastical worlds such as that of Dark Souls from the Soulsborne series (FromSoftware, 2012). I thought fantasy would be a good genre to explore as quite often fantasy has a lot of magical elements which I will be able to produce as VFX. 

As for what kind of magic, “the power of apparently influencing events by using mysterious or supernatural forces.” It is quite a vague concept that will allow me to pick from a large range of VFX (Visual Effects) options (Oxford University Press, 2020).

One notable example of magic and particles from a game would be Skyrim (See Fig 1 and 2), which gives the player the ability to shoot fire and lightning out of their hands (Bethesda Game Studios, 2016).  

Figure 1. Skyrim lightning magic 
Figure 2. Skyrim fire magic 

One of my main sources of inspiration is Avatar: The Last Airbender (2005) (Fig, 3), a cartoon that aired from the mid to late 2000s that shows a world in which a young boy with the ability to control natural elements sets off on a journey to save the world by mastering the four elements. 

Figure 3. Avatar The Last Airbender (2005)

While the manipulation of elements isn’t directly defined as magic it follows the same mysterious form that magic does while drawing inspiration from martial art forms, as is seen in figure 4 where JaketheSnake486 (2014) talks about how earth bending movements from the show are mainly influenced from the Hung Gar martial art style of kung fu.

Figure 4. Earth Bending Diagram (JaketheSnake486, 2014)

In my piece I plan on having two humanoid creatures fight using magic that is emitted by physical movements such as punches and kicks using inspiration from Avatar, the Last Airbender (2005). For both the characters and animations I will be using Mixamo which has a large library of both that can be easily used together and adjusted to meet my needs (Adobe Systems Incorporated, 2020). 


The cutscene takes place in an alternate world built on magic where most of the world’s problems are solved with the use of magic. In the cutscene two humanoid creatures from different races face off against each other, the more primeval of the two hunting the other down as sport. 


Adobe Systems Incorporated (2020) Mixamo. Available online: https://www.mixamo.com/ [Accessed 24/11/2020].

Avatar: The Last Airbender (2005). Directed by Giancarlo Volpe. Written by Aaron Ehasz [TV Programme]. Nickelodeon, 21 May.

Bethesda Game Studios (2016). The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition [Video game]. Bethesda Softworks. Available online: https://store.steampowered.com/app/489830/The_Elder_Scrolls_V_Skyrim_Special_Edition/ [Accessed 27/11/2020].

Byford S. (2019) When did cutscenes start looking worse than actual video games?. Available online: https://www.theverge.com/2019/2/22/18235914/anthem-cutscenes-low-quality-final-fantasy-cgi [Accessed 03/12/2020].

FromSoftware (2014). DARK SOULS™: Prepare To Die™ Edition [Video game]. BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment. Available online: https://store.steampowered.com/app/211420/DARK_SOULS_Prepare_To_Die_Edition/ [Accessed 02/12/2020].

JaketheSnake486 (2014). Martial Arts Influences In Avatar: The Last Airbender. Available online: https://imgur.com/gallery/OdrMc [Accessed 02/12/2020].

Oxford University Press (2020). Definition of Magic. Available online: https://www.lexico.com/definition/magic [Accessed 23/11/2020].

Leave a Reply