Autodesk software for visual effects (VFX) professionals powers modern production pipelines.

Image courtesy of Rising Sun Pictures

What is Visual Effects? (0:12 min.)

What is visual effects?

Visual effects (VFX) is the process through which imagery is altered, created, or enhanced for live-action media that could not be captured during live-action filming due to it being costly, dangerous, impractical, or impossible to shoot. Visual effects allow for the integration of live-action footage and VFX to create realistic objects, characters and environments.

What is the difference between VFX, CGI and special effects?

The three are often used interchangeably but are different in that VFX are created using a combination of live action shots and digital imagery, CGI is anything created digitally, and Special Effects are captured live, without the aid of a computer.


    VFX (visual effects) encompasses any kind of effect created in post-production that wasn't shot directly on set.

  • CGI

    (Computer-generated imagery) is anything that is created digitally within a computer. CG can be incorporated into a VFX shot in a live-action movie (i.e., The dinosaurs in Jurassic World) or used to create a fully CG film (i.e., Toy Story).

    Image courtesy of Amaru Zeas


    SFX (special effects) are practical effects that are implemented directly on set and captured during the live-action shoot. Examples include prosthetic makeup, props or animatronics.

Our VFX software

A wide range of proven and established computer-generated imagery (CGI) and VFX tools for film and TV production.

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Free VFX software


We offer free Autodesk software for students and educators. Use the same visual effects software as top professionals around the world.


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See how studios are using visual effects software

  • Netflix’s Lost in Space: How VFX modernized a classic franchise

    Thanks to the power and remarkable malleability of VFX work, Image Engine was able to give a series as familiar as “Lost in Space” new life, reimagining 50-year-old concepts for the modern era.

    Image courtesy of Image Engine

  • Double Negative talks VFX on "Thor: Ragnarok"

    The rising popularity of superhero movies has brought new challenges to VFX studios. Double Negative shares their work on “Thor: Ragnorok”, the hurdles they faced, and how they tackled them.

    Image courtesy of Dneg

  • My journey to "Blade Runner 2049"

    Richard Hoover, VFX Supervisor at Framestore's Montreal office, shares how the studio pulled off some of the most demanding sequences filmgoers have ever seen for “Blade Runner 2049”.

    Image courtesy of framestore

VFX resources

Learn more about rendering software with these tutorials, tips, and guides.

  • Tutorials of all levels to help you learn Maya, our 3D animation and modeling software

  • 3D modeling and rendering software for design visualization
    Tutorials of all levels to help you learn 3ds Max.

  • 3D visual effects (VFX), finishing, and color grading software
    Tutorials of all levels to help you learn Flame.

  • Global illumination rendering software
    The place to ask and answer questions and share knowledge about using Arnold.

  • The learning hub on AREA has free tutorials for software used by VFX professionals, ranging from beginner to advanced skill levels.

  • From big studios to independent film makers, learn more about our customers, their VFX work, and the problems they’re solving.

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