Facts and figures
Increase of visual effects in film
A review of the twenty highest grossing (worldwide) films of all time shows that seventeen of those are VFX-heavy blockbusters and the other three are CG-animated films utilising very similar technology.
In the last twenty years, the proportion of the budget of these types of films that is spent on VFX has grown from around 10% to anywhere between 20–50%. Over that same period, the UK has been transformed into a global centre for VFX, taking market share from the rest of the world and therefore needing new levels of expertise.
At the time of writing, recent UK work includes Gravity, Interstellar, Paddington, The Martian, Godzilla, Avengers, Avatar, X-Men, Star Wars, Spectre and many more.
It is hard to think of a Hollywood blockbuster over the last five years that has not benefited from the creative expertise of UK talent working on visual effects.
Impact of tax credits
In 2013, there were 5,300 people working in the VFX industry in the UK, but this was before the introduction of new tax credits, which have since had a positive effect on recruitment and growth. Even without the introduction of a specific VFX tax credit the industry was expected to grow between 2012 and 2022, with GVA rising from £284m to £323m, a further increase of 14%. Similarly, employment is expected to increase over the same period, reaching 7,600 in 2022.
The UK’s VFX capabilities are now a major draw for Hollywood’s big budget films and they helped drive inward investment in the film industry to $920m in 2010.
UK companies like Double Negative, Framestore, MPC, Cinesite, The Mill, Industrial Light and Magic (lured to the UK because of tax credits and the pool of talent) are world-renowned with large bases in London.
VFX has a good proportion of smaller companies such as Milk, BlueBolt, Embassy, NVizible making significant impacts on the industry and offering great career progression
A look at the films nominated for the best VFX Oscar reveals that at least one British company has been represented in five of the last six years, which demonstrates the international standing of our industry. Famously, the UK won an Oscar in 2015 for Ex Machina (Double Negative), in 2013 for Gravity (Framestore) and in 2010 for Inception(Double Negative). Framestore is also a past Oscar winner for The Golden Compass in 2008.
British VFX success is not limited to film. The UK has long been a global post-production centre for commercials. Commercials are filmed both in the UK and around the world and then transformed into slick films by British VFX studios.
VFX is also playing a larger and larger part of the programmes we watch on TV, fromDoctor Who and Game of Thrones to period dramas like Poldark and Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell.
Across the creative industries
This is a young industry that continues to play an ever-increasing role in film, TV, broadcast and online. Its technologies and processes are being adopted in traditionally separate disciplines, such as architecture, graphics and games. Small companies such as Milk and Jellyfish work successfully across commercials and TV.
VFX skills shortages
Creative Skillset’s VFX employer panel highlighted that 61% of company respondents were experiencing skills shortages. This figure is significantly higher than the 4% average across the wider UK economy.
The visual effects industry needs new talent to maintain its competitive advantage. Visual effects is widely recognised as the fastest-growing component of the UK’s film industry and has been growing at an explosive rate since the success of the Harry Potter films and the consolidation of the UK as a global film hub.
- Download the Creative Skillset Panel Results (March 2014)
- Download the 2012 Employment Census of the Creative Media Industries