Visual effects, also known as special effects, VFX, FX, SFX and, when applied solely to computer generated effects CGI (for computer-generated imagery), is the application of the field of special effects and/or computer graphics to create effects in films, television programs, commercials, simulators and simulation generally, and printed media. Video games usually use real-time computer graphics, but may also include pre-rendered "cut scenes" and intro movies that would be typical applications.

CGI is used for visual effects because the quality is often higher and effects are more controllable than other more physically based processes, such as constructing miniatures for effects shots or hiring extras for crowd scenes, and because it allows the creation of images that would not be feasible using any other technology. It can also allow a single artist to produce content without the use of actors, expensive set pieces, or props.

Other effects include stunt-related effects, such as falls or impacts, as well as pyrotechnics such as mortars for dark "earthy" explosions, and gasoline bombs for flaming ones.



Main article: Awards
  • 2005 Emmy (57th Annual) Outstanding Special Visual Effects for a Series: Kevin Blank, Mitch Suskin, Archie Ahuna, Spencer Levy, Benoit Girard, Laurent M. Abecassis, Kevin Kutchaver, Steve Fong, and Bob Lloyd, for "Pilot, Part 2"
  • 2005 VES Award (Visual Effects Society) for Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Broadcast Program: Kevin Blank, Mitch Suskin, Benoit Girard, and Jerome Morin, for "Pilot, Part 2"


Below is a list of occurrences of CGI usage on Lost.

Visual Effect Example Notes

In "Pilot, Part 1", when Jack opens his eye, his dilating pupil was created using CGI. Reference: Episode commentary for "Pilot, Part 1", (Lost: The Complete First Season)

1x01 Jack Hurley Claire

The opening nine-minute sequence from "Pilot, Part 1" had approximately 100 visual effects shots, half of the effects shot in the entire pilot. One such effects shot, the wing falling and exploding, had been attempted manually with explosives in the wing. However, the explosives failed to detonate, and the explosion was composited in. (Season 4 Arrives!)

Vision polar bear

Polar bears are created using CGI, although originally the visual effect was attempted by a stuffed bear shot out of a cannon, according to Welcome to Oahu. See also: Kevin Blank for details on the polar bear chaps.


The interior cabin view of Flight 815's tail section falling off was creating using CGI by Digital Dimension artists using Autodesk 3D Studio Max [3] This sequence won Lost the 2005 Visual Effects Society Award (VES Award) for Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Broadcast Program. ("Pilot, Part 2")

Lost pilot a244

The exterior view of Flight 815 from inside the cabin, including clouds and wings, were created using CGI by Digital Dimension [4] The shots of the sky were taken from photos made by Kevin Blank on plane trips. (Season 4 Arrives!)


The person striking the ceiling during Flight 815's pre-accident turbulence was rendered using CGI by Digital Dimension [5] ("Pilot, Part 2")

1X06 CharlieBees

The swarm of bees that attacked Charlie, Jack and Kate were made using CGI. (Lost: The Complete First Season) ("House of the Rising Sun")

3X15 MonsterJuliet

The Monster crashing into the sonic fence was created using visual effects. The scene was manufactured in the software Lightwave, as a "bone chain with particle emitters breaking up." The effect was created by Eden Effects, as well as John Teska, the digital artist that as created the smoke monster throughout the duration of the show. (Season 4 Arrives!)


While 10% of the Black Rock was actually built as a set piece, the rest of the foam shapes of the rest of the ship were photographed by Kevin Blank, and composited into the shot. When the Black Rock appeared again in "The Brig", the same method was used, although with a photograph from a different angle. (Season 4 Arrives!)


The Pillar of Smoke in "Exodus, Part 1" was created using CGI. [source needed]

800px-Zero Count

The Numbers on the timer are made with CGI. Though originally shot for "Adrift" and "Orientation" with a real working model, in editing they were shown to be flimsy, and didn't look mechanical enough. Kevin Blank was then approached by Damon and Carlton to make the clock CG, and the clock ended up costing just $300 per shot. (Season 4 Arrives!)


In "One of Them", the smoke in the burning oil fields was created using CGI. [source needed]

Hurley bird

Over 160 effects shots were used for the Season Two finale. These included the four-toed statue, the sailboat, the Hurley bird, and the Hatch implosion. According to Kevin Blank, some extensions of the Hatch that Charlie ran through were actually CG. During the Pala Ferry scene, surrounding houses and other objects had to be painted out of the shots. (Season 4 Arrives!)

Art1c 2

Every time Flight 815 is seen crashing, including the impact of the tail section, CGI was used. The shot was mapped out in many ways, making it fit seamlessly to the shot of the breakup from the cabin of the plane that was featured in the Pilot episode. According to Kevin Blank, "If you blew it up, you would see a couple of CG people that were in the same position [as the ones that flew out the back of the plane]." (Season 4 Arrives!)


The Island is sometimes composited with CGI. (Lost: The Complete First Season)

800px-Meteroid Clucks

The Meteorite Strike in "Tricia Tanaka Is Dead" was created using CGI. According to visual effects supervisor Kevin Blank, it was the single biggest, most expensive shot the show has ever done. (Season 4 Arrives!)

3x21 looking glass exterior2

The exterior of The Looking Glass station was made using CGI.[source needed] ("Greatest Hits")

1X16 Boar

Boars are sometimes created with CGI. Reference: The "Lost: On Location (Season 1)" special featurette starts with a clip called "The Trouble with Boars". (Lost: The Complete First Season) The Lost props department also utilizes a stuffed boar [6] ("Outlaws")


The interior of the Pearl hatch ladder entryway as viewed from the exterior was created using CGI. The actual Pearl station however was created on a soundstage. Reference: Episode commentary for "Man of Science, Man of Faith". (Lost: The Complete Second Season)


The interior of the Swan hatch is composited with CG images. This becomes especially obvious in the beginning of "Man of Science, Man of Faith" when the camera goes all the way up from the bottom to the Hatch door. (Lost: On Location (Season 1))


The long shots of the Barracks are a computer created composite image. [source needed]

800px-3x12 ParAvion SonicBarrier

Most of the pylons from the Sonic fence were composited into the episode using CGI. [source needed] However at least one pylon is visible in promotional stills, indicating that at least one was a physical prop. ("Par Avion")


The radio tower was created using CGI in the aerial view[source needed] However closeup of the base of the tower and the buildings are visible in the promotional stills of the episode, which are made from a separate still camera and therefore not subject to post-production CGI.


The S.O.S Sign made in "S.O.S." was creating using CGI. [source needed]


The "?" on the exterior of The Pearl station was created using CGI.[source needed]


The explosion of Kate's father's house involved the use of bright lights and a clip of the explosion of a scale model [7] (Lost on Location: What Kate Did - S2 DVD) ("What Kate Did")

Wmplayer 2007-06-07 19-19-11-76

This London backdrop from "Flashes Before Your Eyes", with Big Ben clearly visible, is a green-screen composite of "plates" shot on the banks of the River Thames, as are other international scenes such as the Eiffel Tower, Sydney Opera House, Covent Garden Underground Station ("Greatest Hits"), the background behind Desmond when he visits his former girlfriend ("Flashes Before Your Eyes") and the mountain ranges near Seoul ("D.O.C.") . [8]


The backlighting and details on satellite phones used by the freighter crew, first introduced in "Catch-22", are all computer generated. Effects supervisor Mitch Suskin explains that a prop was never created because the producers originally didn't realize the device would be used so much. He describes the prop as "block of wood, basically". [9]

4x01 TBOTE Action8 car chase

The highway car chase in "The Beginning of the End" was computer generated. [source needed]


The underwater search scenes in "Confirmed Dead" were computer generated. [10]

4x02 Plane toy Bottom

The toy airplane in the aquarium in "Confirmed Dead" was computer generated. According to Mitch Suskin, visual effects were used because the prop would not spiral the way they wanted. He also describes that the plane was originally supposed to be modeled after a Lockheed L-1011 (the prop used for Flight 815), but a decision was later made to change it to a Boeing 777 (the make of the plane in the story). He describes the result a bit of a hydrid. [11]


The map of Indonesia in "There's No Place Like Home, Part 1" was computer generated.


The frieghter explosion in "There's No Place Like Home, Part 3" was computer generated.


The helicopter crash was also created through CGI.


The crash-landing of Ajira Airways Flight 316 was created using CGI.

5x15 Submerge

The submerging of Galaga in "Follow the Leader" was created using CGI.

6x01 Submerged

The underwater scene of the submerged Island at the start of "LA X, Part 1" was created using CGI.


The upper levels of the Temple were created using CGI, as a set extension.[12]

6x05 WatchTheOcean

The upper levels of the Lighthouse were also a set extension, created with CGI.


The rear of the Ajira 316 plane was a set extension.


The light at the Source was created using CGI.[13]


Stunt Example Notes

Spiro Razatos performed the stunt of Dave's cliff fall, which was later composited into the scene. (Source: S2 DVD Extra "Dave")


Frank Torres performed the "Turbine man" pneumatic ratchet rig stunt in "Pilot, Part 1", and the footage was again used in "Exposé". (Source: Welcome to Oahu)


Jake Kilfoyle performed the underwater scene doubling Charlie in Hurley's vision in "The Beginning of the End". This footage was composited into the window frame of Hurley's interrogation room. (Source: Official Lost Video Podcast for February 1, 2008)


Pyrotechnics example Notes

The Emmy-winning explosion sequence from "Pilot, Part 1", with Hurley, Claire, and Jack in the foreground. Possibly composited with CGI-rendered flying debris.


Danielle's dugout explodes behind Jack after he triggers a tripwire trap ("Numbers")


Arzt's dynamite explodes; almost certainly the explosion was composited onto the scene of the surrounding bystanders such as Hurley. ("Exodus, Part 2")


The Monster has earthy explosions, this one near Locke, who in this frame is depicted by a stunt double. ("Exodus, Part 2").


The Monster throws explosions in front of Jack as it uproots several trees in the process. ("Exodus, Part 2")


The Monster throws one explosion in front of Juliet and Kate just as they arrive at the sonic fence. This explosion is immediately followed by CG rendering of multiple smoke trails. ("Left Behind")


Danielle demonstrates her dynamite. ("Greatest Hits")


One of the dynamite traps is detonated by Sayid, throwing several of the Others into the air; these are humanoid dummies caught in the explosions. ("Through the Looking Glass, Part 1")

Boom Claire's cabin exploding in front of Sawyer after being hit by an RPG from the mercenary team. ("The Shape of Things to Come")


Michael Rivero picture
  • Sydney backdrop to Ana Lucia's hotel room was accomplished by back lights, as explained by Michael Rivero in Lost: On Location (Season 2).
  • In some scenes, Aaron is depicted by a sophisticated baby doll, although closeups generally involve a real baby. (Lost: The Complete Second Season)
  • Images on televisions and monitors are usually added in post-production, due to the issues of syncing refresh rates with those of the film crew's equipment.
Normal glass-promo52

Television and monitor images are added in post-production. In this promotional still ("Through the Looking Glass, Part 2"), there is no image of Penelope Widmore.

  • Scenes featuring inner shots of a car in motion during the day are generally filmed with a blue screen, due to lighting issues.


  1. Digital Dimension - Lost webpage on the official site
  2. Autodesk 3DS Max - Page on Digital Dimension's work on Lost
  3. Lost: On Location (Season 1): special featurette starts with a clip called "The Trouble with Boars". (Lost: The Complete First Season)
  4. Lost: On Location (Season 2): explanation by Michael Rivero of hotel window backdrops
  5. Lost Virtual Tour - What Kate Did explosion composition
  6. Lost Virtual Tour - Flashes Before Your Eyes exposition.
  7. CG Focus - Interview with Kevin Kutchaver about visual effects in Lost
  8. VFX World - Interview with Mitch Suskin about effects in Season 4

See also[]

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