VFX vs. CGI have their cool features and perks, you know? This comparison is all about breaking down those differences, so you can figure out which one suits your 3D project best.

We’ll chat about what makes them tick, where they’re used, and all the nitty-gritty stuff to help you make the right call for your creative adventure.

What’s VFX?

What’s VFX?
What’s VFX?

Visual Effects (VFX) create or change visual elements in movies, TV shows, video games, and other media. These effects are added because they are hard or impossible to film in real life.

VFX combines computer-made images with live-action footage to make amazing visuals. This technique is used in ads, games, and films.

In movies, VFX adds explosions, creatures, magical effects, or even whole digital worlds. VFX artists work with directors to make sure their effects match the story.

They carefully look at each frame and use their skills to change images or create new ones. VFX makes it possible for actors to fly or for imaginary creatures to appear real. It has altered filmmaking by creating exciting and immersive worlds for audiences.

>>>Read more: What Software is Used for CGI Animation? Top 6 Options

What’s CGI?

What’s CGI?
What’s CGI?

Computer-generated imagery (CGI) is a digital technique used to create realistic images and animations with computers. It is widely used in movies, TV shows, video games, and ads to produce stunning visual elements.

CGI can make both still images and moving animations, as well as 2D and 3D models.

This technique is versatile, allowing the creation of lifelike characters, creatures, and environments. CGI helps simulate special effects that are hard or impossible to achieve with traditional methods.

Artists and animators use computer software to design and produce visuals that blend seamlessly with live-action footage. This enhances the visual experience for audiences, making scenes more immersive and engaging.

>>>Read more: Definition of CGI and How CGI Is Used in Animation

VFX vs. CGI Comparison

First, let’s check this VFX vs. CGI comparison table!

PurposeEnhances real-world scenes with digital elements.Creates lifelike characters and environments.
CharacteristicsRequires meticulous timing and planning.Offers unmatched flexibility.
CostOften expensive due to complexity and skilled labor.Initially costly but offers long-term savings.
ApplicationWidely used in film, TV, gaming, and advertising.Used in various industries including film, gaming, and architecture.


VFX is used to combine live-action shots with digital images. This means adding digital elements to real scenes filmed with cameras. VFX is common in movies and TV shows to add things like explosions, magical effects, or creatures to scenes with real actors.

The goal is to make the digital parts look like they belong in the real footage, creating a seamless and believable final product.

CGI, on the other hand, creates images and animations entirely with computers. It is used in many areas, like movies, video games, commercials, and print media. CGI is especially used for making 3D graphics.

Artists use CGI to create lifelike characters, environments, and special effects from scratch, without needing any live-action footage. This can be used for fully animated movies or games where everything you see is created digitally.

In short, VFX enhances real footage with digital elements, while CGI creates whole digital worlds and characters.

CGI Usage
CGI Usage

>>>Read more: Distinguish VFX vs 3D animation in an animation studio


VFX integrates digital effects with live-action footage, relying on techniques like matte painting and motion capture, while CGI focuses on creating entirely digital visuals with reusable models, offering safety, high quality, and cost efficiency.

Characteristics of VFX

  • Timing: Timing is crucial in VFX. Effects are usually planned during the building phase but executed during post-production.
  • Live-Action Effects: VFX often involves combining live-action footage with digital elements using blue or green screens.
  • Matte Painting: This technique involves combining multiple images and objects to create a single, seamless image.
  • Digital Animation and Compositing: VFX is heavily used in digital animation, particularly on 3D platforms. Techniques like rotoscoping, particle effects, and digital backgrounds are common.
  • 3D Models: VFX involves creating 3D models from various materials and objects.
  • Motion Capture: VFX uses motion capture to record movements, which are then applied to digital models using specialized software.

Characteristics of CGI:

  • Safety and Quality: CGI is safer than physical effects and produces high-quality, standardized, and manageable visuals.
  • Unique Creations: CGI enables the creation of images and effects that are impossible with other methods.
  • Cost-Effective: CGI is a more effective and cost-saving method for creating images and videos.
  • Wireframe Models: CGI is based on wireframe models that can be modified and placed in different settings, saving time.
  • Reusability: Once created, CGI elements can be reused without the need to recreate libraries and materials.
  • Historical Milestone: The first fully computer-generated animated movie was Toy Story in 1995, showcasing the realism achievable with CGI.
Toy Story
Toy Story

Timing & Flexibility

In VFX, timing is crucial as it involves synchronizing special effects with live-action footage. Knowing when and how an effect is created is vital for the overall production of a film or video.

While primarily utilized in post-production, integration with VFX is planned during the early stages of production.

However, due to the meticulous planning required, changes cannot easily be made during the primary shoot when using Visual Effects. This can sometimes limit spontaneity and creativity during filming.

CGI offers unparalleled flexibility during post-production processes. Its digital nature allows for changes to every component of a completed shot.

CGI often involves the creation and manipulation of wireframe models, which are digital representations of objects, scenes, or characters. These models can be easily modified and placed in various settings at any moment in time.

As a result, CGI provides producers with efficient adjustments, saving time and resources in the long run.

This flexibility allows for creative exploration and experimentation even after the primary filming stage, providing filmmakers with greater creative control over the final product.


VFX tends to be more expensive than CGI due to its complexity and the need for skilled professionals who meticulously work on every scene’s details.

Additionally, VFX requires specialized software and equipment for editing and rendering purposes, adding to the overall expense.

While CGI also requires costly software and initial training investments, once mastered, it offers the advantage of reusing assets, which can significantly save money in the long term.

Once created, CGI assets can be reused across multiple projects, reducing production costs over time.

Which Is For Your 3D Project?

Which Is For Your 3D Project?
Which Is For Your 3D Project?

For a 3D project, CGI would be the ideal choice. CGI, or Computer-Generated Imagery, is specifically designed for creating digital images and animations entirely with computers.

In a 3D project, the goal is often to create lifelike characters, environments, and special effects that can be manipulated and viewed from various angles.

CGI offers unparalleled flexibility during post-production, allowing for changes to every component of a completed shot.

Additionally, CGI involves the creation and modification of wireframe models, which are essential for creating and animating 3D objects.

Overall, CGI provides the necessary tools and techniques to bring 3D projects to life with precision and creativity.


How do VFX artists use CGI in their work?

VFX artists use CGI in their work by integrating computer-generated imagery with live-action footage. They create or manipulate digital elements like creatures, environments, or special effects to enhance scenes in films, TV shows, and other media.

Can CGI be considered a subset of VFX?

CGI can be considered a subset of VFX because it is a technique within the broader field of visual effects. While VFX encompasses various methods, CGI specifically involves creating digital imagery using computer software and techniques.

Which is more realistic, VFX or CGI?

Neither VFX nor CGI is inherently more realistic than the other. Both can achieve high levels of realism depending on the skill of the artists and the quality of the technology and resources used in production.

Can VFX and CGI be used interchangeably?

VFX and CGI are often used interchangeably in colloquial language, but they are not the same.

VFX refers to the process of creating visual effects, which can include CGI but also encompasses other techniques. CGI specifically refers to creating digital imagery entirely with computers.

Conclusion – VFX vs. CGI

So, wrapping things up, choosing between VFX vs. CGI for your 3D project boils down to what you need, what you can spend, and how real you want things to look. Both have their perks, you know?

By weighing up stuff like their features, costs, and how flexible they are, you can pick the one that suits your project vibes best. Just remember, it’s all about making your project shine in the end!

Animost – Vietnam 3D Animation Studio

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