When researching Special Effects (SFX) and Visual Effects (VFX) I noticed a confusion in the terminology. VFX is often used as a general term, even when SFX should be used. On a few fora people were asking what the difference is between SFX and VFX. I do think it is important to be clear about the terminology.
The IMDb terminology page says the following:
“Special Effects AKA: SFX, Special Effects Assistant, Special Effects Technician. An artificial effect used to create an illusion in a movie. Refers to effects produced on the set, as opposed to those created in post-production. Most movie illusions are created in post production. These are called visual effects.”
SFX are produced in-camera, on set, as where VFX are created in postproduction. CGI, Computer Generated Imagery, is part of VFX, as where the use of miniatures or special build stages are part of SFX.
A brilliant use of SFX, Forced Perspective is with Lord of the Rings. This video explains how they did it timing a moving set with a moving camera.
The impressive use of VFX is explained in this video The Desolation of Smaug.