For me that topic is less about what kind of concepts are created. Or even if there are concepts at all. References are often good enough for VFX, in my opinion. Of course if we get into more stylized or magic effects, concepts can be quite helpful.
What really makes me very unhappy in everyday work is that people see VFX as a self-understood resource that can change at any point in the process. Art directors going back on their decisions or not wanting to nail down anything until the last moment. Environment artists changing placement, terrain and expecting VFX to be able to just go in and change their work, again. All these things lead to worse quality than it could be so often.
For other disciplines there is a pre-production, a concept, a process and then it’s done. Nobody comes in 5 weeks later and asks an environment artists if that tree could maybe look like a Swiss cheese instead. At least not in our studio. Level design doesn’t do a 180 degree turn and tells environment artists to deal with it. Very different for effects though. The amount of times I have to rebuild a shader because the art director wants something different or environment art changed some essential requirement, and production not seeing any problem with that, is mind-boggling. And since there is almost no overtime in our studio (although we could certainly use some), the quality of effects goes downhill very fast.
It brings me to the point where I am thinking about quitting. Because I have tried to change this quite often, and I’ve told people that I am very unhappy about it. But there is nobody that actually cares or thinks this is a big deal for FX. Interesting to hear that other VFX artists have the same problems?