Simple file naming for VFX

Information is always lost as stuff is passed around different studios during post-production.  A good naming convention can help prevent confusion.

  • i means input (input to VFX system)
  • HDP is the project name.
  • 010 is the vfx shot number.
  • BG the plate name.
  • v01 is the version.
  • 000021 the frame number
  • dpx is the file type

So how is this used?

You send us Inputs we send you Outputs

i is for Input. Shots sent from the editor to VFX have names like this:


o is for output. When the VFX team send a composite back to the editor they will use something like this:


e is for vfx element. Compositing layers created and used only by the VFX team are called elements.


So Material coming into the vfx pipeling from editorial is an input. Shots going out of vfx to editorial is an output. Everything else is an element.

VFX Shot Numbers

  1. Label each VFX shot in increments of 10 starting at the beginning of the show and working through to the end.
  2. Pad the the number to 3 figures. So shot 10 becomes 010. (VFX heavy shows may need 4 figures. )

Let’s say there 5 VFX shots in the show. In sequence the shots would be:

010, 020, 030, 040, 050.

If later you spot new VFX shot  in between two existing VFX shots, you can split the difference for the new shot number.

For example if you spot a new shot in between 020 and 030…the new shot would be 025. Let’s say there is one more between 025 and 030, you could do 028…so on and so forth.

By naming your VFX shots in this way, you ensure that your VFX numbers are labelled in sequential order

Plate names

VFX shots are often built from layers. These can be abbreviated in the shot name as BG, or E1, E2,E3, etc. So all the layers of a shot might be named as:-


‘BG’ is the background plate. Normally the shot the editor places in the main video layer of the cut.
Extra layers can simply be labled as ‘E1’, ‘E2’, ‘E3’ etc.

Keep the Version Number in sync.

It’s best to keep the version number of image sequences in sync with the file that generated it. It’s very easy to get confused with who’s seen what version and where it came from. Keeping track is easier if you can see directly from the file name which file rendered which images.

So if my composite file is:


Then the image sequence i render will be called,


Numbered sequential images starting at 000001

File names are simply the shot name with a padded frame number and file type added to the end. So frame number 43 in a .dpx file sequence is:


I use 6 figure padding for all file numbers because it suits the Quantel grading suite we use at Lexhag.

So for shot 010. The background plates would be a sequence of files starting like this.




VFX Post-production tips