news • 20 December 2023

VFX Compositing Students' Recommended Reading List

Profile picture of Klaudija Cermak

Written by Klaudija Cermak

Programme Leader for VFX

The learning in VFX never ends. It continues beyond the classroom and the workplace. Essentially the whole industry sits on the shoulders of passionate and dedicated VFX Artists who are prepared to go the extra mile, work the occasional all-nighters and spend a lot of their free time improving their skills and pursuing their passion and love for VFX. The reward for this effort lies in working with great people in great environments. 

Below is a list of 13 essential books that will help you become better VFX Compositing Artists. These titles have been written by some of the legends in the industry who spent years researching and writing them so that we can get better at what we do.  

  • The Core Skills of VFX – Student Primer + Repository – Walker Saint John (2017)

    These are two amazing booklets that give a complete overview of VFX workflows and the soft skills required to be successful in the industry. For more information on VFX workflows, please also refer to 'The VFX Escape Route', our Creative Pipelines and Workflows Guide for the VFX industry. 

  • Masters of FX – Ian Failes (2015) An outstanding book from the Author of great website featuring breakdowns and behind the scenes insights into some iconic films. 

  • Compositing Visual Effects – Steve Wright (2011) A beautifully written introduction to VFX Compositing by Steve Wright, who has a knack for explaining complex concepts in layman’s terms. 

  • Digital Compositing for Film and Video – Steve Wright (2017) Another masterpiece from Steve Wright digging deeper into VFX Compositing. 

  • Light for Visual Artists – Richard Yot (2019) A feast for the eyes explaining light phenomenon. A must have for any Visual Artist. 

  • The Art and Science of Digital Compositing – Ron Brinkmann (2008) This is a VFX Compositing Bible. 

  • The VES Handbook of Visual Effects – Jeffrey Okun and Susan Zwerman (2020) 

    Another Bible. An in-depth book by the Visual Effects Society explaining the concepts behind VFX Compositing. 

  • The VES Handbook of Virtual Production – Susan Zwerman and Jeffrey Okun (2023) Just out! Everything we need to know about Virtual Production. 

  • The Colour Management Handbook for Visual Effects Artists – Victor Perez (2023) The Superman of VFX Compositing brings us The Colour Management book we have been all waiting for so that we don’t need to bluff anymore. 

  • The Basics of Filmmaking – Blain Brown (2020) Understanding filmmaking from concept to delivery is essential to understanding where VFX Compositing sits in the pipeline. 

  • The Five C’s of Cinematography – Joseph V Mascelli (1998) If you have passion for films and VFX then you need to know the 5 C’s of cinematography: camera angles, continuity, cutting, close-ups and composition. 

  • Making Movie Magic: A Lifetime Creating Special Effects – John Richardson and Richard Donner (2019) Demonstrating the art of special effects (SFX) created in camera on the shoot. This is a must- have book as VFX Compositing is often associated with CG but most of the tasks in VFX Compositing involve interventions into live action plates and combining various live action elements including SFX. The most recent example of that is in the feature film ‘Oppenheimer’.