Wednesday, 24th April 2019


Special effects play a major role in many film and television productions and, these days, with technology being so advanced, the quality of special effects can make or break a film. Film and production teams will hire teams of highly skilled and creative special effects technicians to design and create all manner of visual effects.

The UK has a particularly strong special effects sector, with approximately 1,500 people working in the industry.

Special effects technicians employ an array of design skills, mixed with technological prowess to create convincing visual effects for any type of film or television production. All types of effects, whether complex or simple, are planned and assembled by special effects technicians.

There are three main types of special effects that technicians could be involved in:

  • Physical effects - the building of props, models and mechanical robotics
  • Visual effects - all forms of digital manipulation to make something on screen appear as it isn’t, mostly involving computer-generated imagery (CGI)
  • Pyrotechnic effects - using machines to create fires, smoke and explosions

The role of a special effects technician can vary greatly depending on the project and the company that they are hired by. With CGI being relied on more and more, there are fewer positions in physical special effects, but there are alternative employment possibilities. Modern technicians are often required to have a variety of practical skills, including in moulding, computers, mechanics, metalwork or electronics and CGI.

Usually working as part of a team, special effects technicians may either be involved in the creation and design of effects, or they assemble and operate them. There is a range of individual roles within special effects that technicians can specialise in. Working as a special effects technician can be varied and exciting, but requires hard work, focus and specialist skills.