A creator of illusion
The Special Effects Supervisor is responsible for the design and execution of the special effects he/she supervises.
With a dual background in cinema and digital imaging, he / she ensures the overall consistency of the various image sources and the artistic and technical quality of shots requiring special effects.
Film and television strongly rely on the talents and training of the FX team members.
The role of the SFX Supervisor
We know what a supervisor is, but what is a SFX? The answer is: special effects. The S stands for the first letter of the word “special“, and FX stands for the very approximate pronunciation of the word “effects“.
The SFX Supervisor is responsible for managing the department’s budget and team planning, as well as the production of all the special effects in pre-production. He defines his bible, a document that describes each shot, the effects that will be used, and how the scene will be shot.
He ensure their operation on the set during the shooting and, finally, he takes part in post-production where he provides visual consistency with his team of 3D computer graphics designers.
Special effects have existed for over 100 years, but since they have been computer-generated, they have transformed film and television forever. Their applications are becoming more and more sophisticated. Without the SFX, modern cinema would not exist.
Without the SFX supervisor on a film set, special effects would certainly be less efficient.
Finally, it should be noted that the SFX team also takes the time before shooting to make sure that all safety precautions are taken.
His skills and qualities
Creativity, imagination and above all, bringing new and original ideas. The supervisor is imaginative, that is the least we can say.
Original ideas are sought after!
As a result, a high level of creativity is almost unavoidable to find solutions according to the director’s wishes. The supervisor plays a supervisory role towards his teams and must be as relaxed as possible when facing the pressure of deadlines, for example.
As a technician, he obviously masters the special effects software used in post-production but also the shooting techniques.
His general culture (art, science, technology) will help him to be as involved as possible at all levels…
His career and his development opportunities
The SFX Supervisor works on a wide variety of projects (animated feature films or real images, series, television packaging, advertising, communication, video games, etc.) in animation studios, post-production companies, video game creation studios, computer graphics studios, etc.
He can specialize in a specific type of special effects.
Supervisors often have a fixed term contract. However, they may also be hired on permanent contracts within major special effects companies or work as freelancers.
For those who would like to learn more about this profession, Pascal Pinteau has published a book entitled SFX Effets Spéciaux, deux siècles d’histoire (“SFX, Two Centuries of History“). 850 pages that tell the history of special effects in cinema from their origins to the present day. A must read!