Commandeering an entire cinema and arts centre in East London for a full three days, the VFX Festival was the place to be this February for any visual effects enthusiast. Whether you're just starting out or are a seasoned industry veteran, the event had you covered, with the first day geared up to help students nail their portfolios and the remaining two days catering for us industry pros.

As creatives, events like these keep us head of the curve and help us make our graphics, UI/UX, and videos as sharp as possible. Seeing the incredible innovation from people working in a wide range of areas really gets our creative juices flowing, and they also make a great day out too, which is always a plus in our book!

Heading down south for day 2, we prepared ourselves for a festival jampacked full of high-profile examples of intricate VFX deployed on both big and small screens. With speakers set to cover behind-the-scenes work on block-buster projects including Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Thor: Ragnarok, and Blade Runner 2049, the event had the potential to be an absolute gold mine, and it didn't disappoint! Here's our top four top tips.

1. Research is king
Whatever the scale of your project, the starting point is research, research, research. This was a theme throughout the festival, with RISE Studios trawling Flickr for their work on The Dark Tower film and Territory Studios making the most of Pinterest in their research for the Blade Runner 2049 blockbuster.

Effective research goes way beyond this, though! To make something truly life-like, you have to capture every last feature, and this requires painstaking attention to detail. Double Negative showcased the power of this in their talk, explaining how they researched the movement patterns of real-life bears and bulldogs to bring a 200lb dog to life in Marvel's ‘InHumans' TV show!

MPC Advertising faced a similar challenge when they set about creating a CGI ram for a VW marketing campaign. After bringing their brief to life, they repeatedly refined their creation and nailed even the subtlest of details like its fur, enabling them to give the ram a real personality, which clear for all to see in this video!

2. Get creative with reality
Sometimes, it's actually much easier to use real-world props to speed things along in VFX work. Double Negative were top of their game with this one, too: they created a life-size model of their massive CG dog to help object blocking in their filming.

Territory Studio took this to another level in their work on Blade Runner, though. They used macrophotography of grapefruits to create organic-looking mock-ups of the inside of a human eye!

3. Look around: inspiration is everywhere!
As the guys at Territory showed with their innovative use of a grapefruit, inspiration can be taken from every-day items and routines; you should always keep an eye out for the spark for your next great idea!

Pixar gave us another great example of this. Aaron, one of their Animators, told us how his animation of a car transforming in the Cars 3 movie was inspired by watching popcorn popping!

4. Communicate, collaborate, iterate
This one is key in almost any sector, but it's especially important in VFX. When you're bringing someone else's idea to life, it's vital that you work closely with them to ensure you're all pushing in the same direction.

Territory again presented another perfect example of this. Because Blade Runner's plot was absolutely top-secret, they had very little overall info about the film. They had to start building with what they were given initially and adapt their work with every real asset they were sent as the film began to take shape. To make this as easy as possible, the Territory team had face-to-face meetings with the film's director to ensure they were both on the same lines. The key thing they nailed here is that everyone wants to be creative; this includes your clients, so you should never keep them out of the process!