Long story short, they can do anything. Nowadays, directors and filmmakers have no limits whatsoever just because of great advances in VFX technologies. Some people even might say that movies these days have too much CG, that visual effects may be in the way of the main story. But on the other hand, from the very beginning of cinema, filmmakers always wanted to push boundaries of imagery, trying to come up with more and more intricate camera tricks.
The history of VFX is very well documented in motion pictures that can be traced back to 1895. There were no computers or green screens in 19 century, so combinations of clever cuts, matte paintings, and rear projection were used. At the same time, filmmakers started using stop motion too. Interestingly enough, multiple exposures were the very first visual effect to be performed to create a surreal shot.
So how do visual effects work now? Well, technology evolves super fast these days. From blue screen to green screen, to motion capture, to the latest innovations with Mandalorian’s ‘Volume’ and live de-aging of the Irishmen. VFX studios around the world join forces to generate hundreds of shots for almost every movie we see on screen. Indeed, some movies are shot entirely on chroma key, like The Martian, Life of Pi, Avatar, Gravity. Each of them pushed the industry forwards making CGI more lifelike and more subtle.
Effects have become more accessible, and it’s very difficult to find a music video or a commercial that didn’t involve visual effects services in the process. Max Colt, visual effects supervisor at a Los Angeles company FRENDER, says that new projects for music artists arrive every day, FRENDER crew is constantly busy, and they expect the demand to grow in the nearest future. The company receives inquiries about postproduction, services of visual effects supervisor, visual effects. Most of the clients are a-listers of the creative industry (Beyonce, Mugler, Disney), directors of documentaries, streaming services (Hulu, Netflix), and many others.