(written from a Production point of view)
"Visual Effects" (occasionally abbreviated as "VFX", and in the past, prior to the late-1970s, also referred to as "Opticals" or, as was the case in the end-credit roll of Star Trek: The Original Series, "Photographic Effects") are processes used in the motion picture industry to visualize imaginary or illusory events, situations and/or objects for on-screen depiction. VFX are those effects that are generated or composited off-set in post-production editing. Traditional methods of producing VFX included such techniques as construction of physical studio models or miniatures, manipulation of film elements in post-production, use of motion control photography and matte-painting. To this array were added more advanced computer-aided methods, including the technique of computer-generated imaging (or imagery) (CGI). Most Star Trek productions used the traditional methods of creating VFX; it was not until the advent of Star Trek: Enterprise that these methods were abandoned altogether, in favor of CGI.
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