Category 23: Outstanding Special (Practical) Effects in a Photoreal Project2023-08-28T10:20:16-07:00

Category 23: Outstanding Special (Practical) Effects in a Photoreal Project

NOTE: In this category only, the Special Effects Coordinator/Supervisor shall determine the entrants, subject to the restrictions stated below. 

This award is to honor the overall achievement of the special, practical effects within a photoreal motion media project.  Special Effects are defined as practical or floor effects that are photographed “live” as opposed to having been created by optical or digital means. Practical effects executed on or with models are eligible provided the models are an integral component of the Special Effects, but the design of the models themselves is not considered in this category. The effects may either stand alone or may subsequently be composited with other live action or visual effects elements to make up a complete shot.

Models and Miniatures, Special Makeup Effects, Prosthetics, Stop-motion Effects, or Puppetry are NOT eligible in this category. (Models and Miniatures are eligible in categories 13-15 and 17; Stop-motion, Puppetry and Animatronic performances are eligible in categories 10-12.)

The entrants in this category must be able to demonstrate the development of the effects using ‘Before and Afters.’  To be award-worthy, these effects must demonstrate skill, artistry and ingenuity and add to the storytelling of the project in a significant manner.

To view the VES Awards Category 23 Submission Guide, click here



Any live action motion media project, including feature motion pictures, broadcast and streaming programs, commercials, games and special venue projects.

NOTE: In this category only, the Special Effects Coordinator/Supervisor shall determine the entrants, subject to the restrictions stated below. 

Premiere Dates:

January 1 to December 31, 2023


A Feature is defined as a scripted, single, closed-end work with a beginning, middle and end, with a duration of 45 minutes or more. Pilots or single episodes which are part of a Series or Limited Drama/Mini-Series as defined in any VES Episodic eligible award categories, are explicitly excluded from this category.

Series is defined as a scripted program with a theme, storyline or principal characters that must be predominantly featured in a minimum of six (6) continuous episodes.

Limited Drama/Mini-Series is defined as a single title, multi-part, closed-end program based on a single theme or storyline, with a clear beginning, middle and end, which is resolved within the piece in two (2) or more installments.

Commercial is defined as a motion imaging work that has been paid for by an identified sponsor, has been sent through one or more mass media, and is directed to a market segment with the explicit purpose of supporting the promotion or sale of a product, brand, service or idea.  It should be readily apparent to the viewing public that the entry is a commercial.

Special Venue Project is defined by the location at which the material is shown. Special Venues are locations such as theme parks, large-format theaters, museums, galleries, outdoor sites, or live theatres, but not standard movie theaters, homes, or personal viewing devices. Projects must be specifically created for that venue; repurposed projects do not qualify. One-time projects (e.g., opening/closing ceremonies at the Olympics) are eligible in this category, as are Virtual Reality projects for Special Venues. Demonstration, pre-release, or trade show projects are not eligible for the VES Awards. Special Venue Virtual Reality projects must use custom equipment and cannot use readily available consumer gear. Special Venue Projects may be Photoreal or Animated, interactive or linear, and 2D or 3D; but the Work to Be Considered and Before & Afters must be submitted as 2D, linear, and with the correct specifications.

Photoreal is synonymous to live action, the intent being that the images should appear to have been photographed in the real world, even if the actual subjects are fantastical and do not exist in the real world.

Additional Information:

Title sequences are eligible as long as they are submitted in textless form, and they are part of the storytelling and are not a specially designed separate title sequence. Motion graphics and logos are not eligible in this category.


Slot 1: The Practical Effects Supervisor

Slot 2: open to any significant contributor to the Special Effects

Slot 3: open to any significant contributor to the Special Effects

Slot 4: open to any significant contributor to the Special Effects

Slot 5: empty

A maximum of four (4) individuals, including the SFX Supervisor, Assistant SFX Supervisor, Floor Effects Supervisor, Design Engineer, or any other artist who personally contributed significantly to the creation of the Work to Be Considered may be considered in this category

All individuals submitted must be directly involved with the work being considered in the entry and must have contributed to the artistry being considered for the Award.  The Awards Committee reserves the right to question whether an artist contributed directly to the work being considered.

The following are specifically NOT eligible in this category:

    • Overall VFX Supervisors
    • Art Directors or Production Designers
    • Digital/Visual Effects artists

Entrant Names; Entrant Substitutions

List entrants in the order in which they should appear in any announcements or publicity. Make sure the names and email addresses are spelled correctly. Select your nominees carefully. Submitters should consider qualified artists who no longer work at the facility.

If you find that you need to make an entrant name substitution, log onto the original online submission form using the username and password issued at the time of submission. Make the desired name change and click “Submit” to complete the change.

No substitutions will be allowed after the nomination event.

If there is valid reason to question the eligibility of an entrant, the VES Awards Committee reserves the right to investigate the situation and take appropriate action. For more information on name substitutions, consult the VES Awards Policies, Section 11, Name changes, substitutions, and challenges.

Submission Forms and Submission Numbers

You Must fill out a Submission Form online and obtain a Submission Number to be in the Awards. Complete the form, have it signed (electronic signatures are acceptable), upload the completed form to site by the deadline, November 30, 2023.


Entry forms must be signed by:

    • The person submitting the entry (who may or may not be an entrant); and
    • The overall Practical EFX Supervisor; or
    • The overall VFX Supervisor; or
    • The overall VFX Producer.
    • In the case of submissions created under the employ of a facility, a member of the facility’s management

The signers acknowledge that all entrants are eligible and agree to follow and be bound by the rules, procedures, and policies of the VES Awards.

In the case of multiple entries from the same submitting organization, instead of signing each individual submission form the overall VFX Supervisor or overall VFX Producer (or the equivalent to these job titles) may submit a single signed letter to the Awards Committee covering all of the award submissions they are authorizing. This letter must include each individual Submission Number for which they are signing. To avoid confusion, this letter should be submitted to the VES office at the same time as the entries it is authorizing.

Contact Person

Please assign one contact person for all your entries. This is the individual (the Submitter) to whom the username and password for uploading your electronic submission will be sent.

This contact person must be available to the Awards Committee during vetting (December through early January) to deal with any potentially disqualifying issues that the Awards Committee may uncover during vetting. He or she should know where to reach everyone named on the submission in case of questions and who can arrange to re-edit a submission if necessary.


Multiple entries from the same project are eligible provided the artistic teams are 100% different and the footage being submitted is completely different.

If multiple entries are submitted for a scene, all submitters will be notified that they must submit one joint entry or risk disqualification of all entries. If a payment has been made on a duplicate entry, the submitter may use that payment towards an entry in a different category.


Work to Be Considered Length: 1:30 Max.*

Before & Afters Length: 2:00 Max.*

Optional Supporting Material PDF: Up to four pages

Submission format (new for 2023): Quicktime with video as ProRes 422 Proxy, 1920x1080p, 23.98fps,  Rec709, Gamma 2.4. Audio as Stereo 16-bit 44.1/48KHz embedded uncompressed PCM. No exceptions.

*Not including the length of slates

Entry Content

Your entry is made of two parts:

    • The work you are submitting for the judges to view (the Work to Be Considered).
    • Descriptive information about how the SFX for the project were created (the Before & Afters material).

Entrants are responsible for their own quality control. The VES accepts no responsibility for viewing materials that do not play properly, are submitted at the wrong resolution or format, or are of inferior quality (see Submission Format, below).

FACILITY IDs: Viewing materials (including Before & Afters), supplemental written materials, or slates may NOT contain the names of facilities, production company logos, logo bugs, or individuals that worked on the project. Entries containing such material will be required to resubmit without identifying marks or they may be disqualified

Work to Be Considered

This is the project material you wish to enter for an award. All Work to Be Considered must be submitted as premiered. Long single shots may be edited down for length by trimming the head or tail of the shot, or lifting one continuous section from the middle. However, you may NOT:

    • Change the order of sequences from how they appeared within the project
    • Change the order of or edit shots (except very long shots as stated above) within a sequence
    • Put different contextual material around the Work to Be Considered other than how it was premiered
    • Add fades or dissolves to “smooth” awkward transitions created by cutting down the sequence. However, you may place a few frames of black between segments
    • Use sound other than the original sound track as premiered
    • Add watermarks to any viewing material

You should provide some contextual material surrounding the Work to Be Considered where it is available. “Contextual Material” is the shots (visual effects or otherwise) immediately preceding or following the work you are submitting. This contextual material shows how the Work to Be Considered fits into the scene, sequence, or project. Contextual Material must be short and solely shown to set up the effects being presented.

Before & Afters

All entries must submit Before & Afters. The Before & Afters material must be unique to this entry and tailored to the category you are entering. Where the special (practical) effects played a major role in the project, the Before & Afters should include footage demonstrating this fact. Before & Afters entered in different categories from the same project must be significantly different from one another and must specifically address the shots and category being submitted. Before & Afters must demonstrate how the work was accomplished through one or more of the following:

    • Storyboards Animatics and/or previs
    • Technical drawings and specifications
    • Raw plates
    • Raw elements
    • Work-in-progress (developmental progression of shot)
    • The finished shot

In addition:

    • Company logos, logo bugs, or individual names identifying who worked on the entry are not permitted. Entries containing such material will be required to resubmit without identifying marks or they may be disqualified.
    • Special Venue entries must include video footage of the project from the perspective of the audience.
    • Real-Time entries should include video footage demonstrating game assets in their native authoring environment. Overlays showcasing hardware and software performance are also welcomed.
    • You may not use the same Before & Afters clip for two different categories, though limited reuse of individual shots is permissible as long as they fit the intent of the category.

Your entry may be disqualified if the Before & Afters material contains any of the following:

    • Extraneous material that does not relate directly to the Work to Be Considered; Special Effects submissions may include footage showing the development and testing of special effects techniques applied to the project
    • Shots or sequences that are not shown in the Work to Be Considered except for brief references from external sources, such as YouTube or other films
    • Talking heads explaining the work (voice-over narration is acceptable)

Written Supporting Material

Submitters may, at their option, provide a concise written description of how the Work to Be Considered was created. Please submit a PDF file of your written material at the time of submission by uploading the PDF by clicking on “Actions>Upload supplemental material” on the Submission Form. PDFs of nominated entries will be posted on the View & Vote website. Do not send printed copies of written supporting material to the VES.

To view the sample Written Material, click here

Guidelines for Written Material:

    • Put the Submission Number on every page
    • Keep the number of pages to a minimum
    • Written material may not include the names of individuals or facilities that directly worked on the visual effects.
    • Reprints of magazine or web articles are not allowed
    • Please name the PDF file the same as the submission number of your submission (e.g. 01-9999).


All sound used in the Work to Be Considered portion of the entry must be the original sync sound as premiered. Entries may be submitted MOS, but they must be clearly labeled as such on the slate. However, the Before & Afters material may have alternate audio, including relevant commentary. Commentary may not include the names of facilities or individuals that did the work, be self-congratulatory, or otherwise off-topic.


The Head Slate goes at the beginning of each submission, and the Tail Slate goes at the end of each submission. Tail slates will be automatically generated when you create your submission. If revised materials are submitted, you do not need to update the Slate.

Submitting Viewing Materials

Viewing materials must be submitted in electronic form. We will not accept a submission in physical media form.

Electronic Submissions

When you first made your submission you created a unique username and password to use for electronic material submissions. Use the same username and password for all your submissions. But keep in mind that each individual entry will also be given a unique file name that corresponds to only one specific Submission Number.

Submission Format: ProRes Proxy (new for 2023)

The new submission format for 2023 is Apple ProRes Proxy in a QuickTime wrapper (.mov).

The submission/encoding format is easy to use, and is compatible with all major computing platforms (PC, MAC, Linux). It has been designed to be practical on all but the slowest of Internet connections.

One tool that you can use to create a correct entry is Blackmagic’s DaVinci Resolve,  the free version available for PC,Mac, and Linux is sufficient.

All viewing material must follow these guidelines:

    • 1920x1080p, 23.98fps ProRes Proxy Video
    • Color encoding per Rec. 709
    • Gamma 2.4
    • Audio should be stereo, embedded uncompressed PCM 16-bit 44.1/48KHz.

No exceptions to these requirements.

The VES is not responsible for any artifacting present in video files used for online voting that may be caused by interlaced footage.

Upload Order

The entry must be uploaded in two parts:

    • The Work to Be Considered (the entry) is one upload; and
    • The Before & Afters material is the second upload.

Use the VES slates on both uploads and follow the upload order below in assembling your submission:

Upload No. 1:

Part 1:


B) :01 BLACK
D) :01 BLACK

Upload No. 2:

Part 2:


B) :01 BLACK
D) :01 BLACK

Do not combine your uploads.  Viewing material deviating from these format specs will not be accepted.

File Naming Conventions

Your uploaded submission(s) must be named as follows:

For Part 1: Work to Be Considered

    • Entry (This is the original project material)

For Part 2: Before & Afters

    • Entry (This is your Before & Afters file)

For example: For Submission ID 02-0003, name your files as follows:

    • Work to Be Considered:
    • Before & Afters:


SUBMISSIONS OPEN: Monday, October 9, 2023

DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSIONS: Thursday, November 30, 2023, 11:59PM PST

NOTE: Unavailability of personnel to prepare submission materials in time to meet the entry deadline is not a valid reason to be granted a deadline extension.


(Dates subject to change)


Period of Eligibility for Entries January 1 – December 31
Rules & Procedures Posted August 28
Entry Forms Available, Submissions Open——– October 9
Submission Deadline November 30, 2023


Global Nominating Panels January 13
L.A. Nomination Judging Panels Hold Vote——- January 13
Nominations Announced January 16
On-Line Viewing & Vote (Members Only) January 22 – February 4
22nd Annual VES Awards Gala Wednesday, February 21, 2024



The total fee for each entry is $460, regardless of how many individuals are named on the submission or their VES affiliation.


Each VES member is entitled to one personal Submission Voucher that will cover that member’s entry fee for one entry only or that member’s pro-rated portion of one entry if he or she is a part of a team entry.

For purposes of pro-rating, VES vouchers are deemed to have a value of $115 regardless of the category being entered. Therefore, the non-VES entrants must pay the difference between the $460 total entry fee minus the value of the VES vouchers being applied to the entry.

  • Example #1: Assume that an entry in category 4 (where a total of five entrants is allowed) is using two vouchers valued at $230. That leaves a balance of $230 to be split among the remaining three entrants for a total value of $460.
  • Example #2: Assume that an entry in category 12 (limited to four entrants) is using one voucher only. That leaves a balance of $345 to be split among the remaining three entrants.

Each member may make a voucher by photocopying their valid VES membership card and including it with the submission as their portion of the entry fee.

Vouchers are non-transferable.


Payment must be received by the VES no later than 5 PM PST, November 30, 2023. Entries are not complete and will not be vetted until payment has been made.


Submissions may only be made through this VES Awards website by following the directions below. 

  1. Designate ONE person to be your primary “go to” person for all VES Awards matters. This person is the official Submitter. He or she must sign the Submission Form. 
  2. The submission form will be available starting on or about October 9, 2023 on this site.
  3. Click on “Submit an Entry” below. 
  4. After clicking “Submit an Entry”, click on “Create New Submission.” Instructions will take you through the complete registration and submission process and will guide you on how to prepare your materials for upload. 
  5. Give each entry a distinct project title (preferably the project’s main title) and entry name on both the entry form and on the slate (e.g., Main Title of Project: Avengers; Name of Clip: Hulk Smashes Loki). 
  6. When you have completed the Submission Form, click ”Submit”. A unique submission number will be automatically issued. At the same time, slates will be automatically generated for your viewing materials. 
  7. One submission per form. Do not combine multiple entries on a single submission form.
  8. Making a note of the official Submission Number. Do not lose this login information or share it with an unauthorized individual. You will need this information later if you have to make changes to your submission. 
  9. Print or Download your completed entry form, have it signed by the appropriate individuals (electronic signatures are acceptable), upload the completed form to the site by the deadline, November 30, 2023. 
  10. Entry fees should be paid by using the online credit card authorization form in the section “Submit an Entry”. 
  11. Use the Submission Number in all correspondence relating to your entry. 
  12. Upload your viewing materials in Submission Format (ProRes as specified above), no later than Thursday, November 30, 2023.

The VES Awards Committee may need to revise the text on this page. If we do, we will note any revisions below: