Plan and design physical special effects

Business Sectors (Suites): Physical Special Effects
Developed by: ScreenSkills
Approved on: 01 Mar 2017


This Standard is about your ability to plan and design physical special effects. It will involve creating and developing an effect, knowing which materials are the most appropriate and communicating the necessary information to production. You will need to work in collaboration with a range of production departments in order to design the effect and plan for its implementation. You will also need to work in collaboration with your team and any third party such as private fire crews, so as to ensure the safe, accurate and effective execution of effects. This Standard is for you if you research, design and plan physical special effects.

Performance criteria

You must be able to:

  1. design physical special effects that meet the brief and budget and

    schedule constraints

    1. work in collaboration with other departments and other key

    personnel when designing and planning physical special effects

    1. prepare and present design specifications for physical special

    effects in expected formats,

    1. ensure all aspects of designs and their implementation meet

    health and safety standards and legislation

    1. provide required documents on safety precautions to relevant


    1. assess the risks involved and assign appropriate precautions to

    combat them

    1. provide advice and guidance to production at appropriate times

    and in relevant formats on all aspects of health and safety for


    1. confirm that designs incorporate all key aspects of effects,

    including mechanics, chemicals and materials to be used

    1. liaise with prop and material manufacturers to ensure all parts are

    appropriate for intended effects

    1. ensure that necessary approvals have been sought and confirmed

    by production

    1. ensure that any testing is conducted in line with safety standards

    and recorded in appropriate documentation

    1. record all aspects of risk assessment and risk management in

    required formats, providing documentation to others when


    1. suggest and provide alternatives designs, within budget and

    schedule, when original ones cannot be employed

    1. communicate all aspects of designs to relevant people on your

    team and the production

    1. employ competent crew with relevant skills and experience for the


    1. provide documentation and instructions in sufficient detail for team

    members to produce effects

    1. ensure that locations will be returned to a safe state once physical

    special effects have been executed

Knowledge and Understanding

You need to know and understand:

  1. how to research and plan required elements and materials for


    1. how to assess what will be required in terms of materials to create

    effects, how they will impact on effects and the rationale for their


    1. the mechanics of desired effects and how to recreate them in a

    convincing manner that meets safety legislation

    1. how to simplify the physical special effects process so that it is

    film friendly

    1. different camera formats and technical specifications available

    including different lenses, formats, framing principles and ratios,

    mounts, angles of shots, depth of field, principles of perspectives

    and scale limitations

    1. the current legislation and parameters for using physical special

    effects on a production

    1. the productions legal requirements and policies, including health

    and safety, insurances, budgets and schedules and how these

    affect physical special effects

    1. measures to put in place to ensure safe, accurate ahd effective

    execution of effects

    1. how to fabricate and implement action props and materials

    2. how to use inanimate and articulated dummies and the mechanics

    involved in using these

    1. how to create models and scale up and down from existing


    1. how to use photographic projections, methods of scaling, digital

    scanning, printing and rapid prototyping, materials and processes

    1. the benefits of assessing locations where possible prior to


    1. the challenges of testing effects in workshop conditions and how

    this can be replicated in both studio and location settings

    1. how stunt performers work and the safety parameters they must

    operate within

    1. the hierarchy of production and who needs to be passed

    information and at which stage of the design process

    1. timetable, budget, schedule, constraints and planning of both your

    department and the needs of other departments

    1. the process to follow to gain approval for physical special effects

    work during production

    1. how to employ competent individuals or third party specialists to

    work collaboratively within a team

    1. what can be achieved by post production and visual effects for the

    effect required


Scope Performance

Scope Knowledge





Links To Other NOS

External Links

Version Number


Indicative Review Date

01 Mar 2020





Originating Organisation

Creative skillset

Original URN


Relevant Occupations

Arts, Media and Publishing, Physical Special Effects Professionals

SOC Code



Physical special effects; Risk assessment; Design; Plan; Breakdown; Budget