Written by: Brett Amato
perspective depicting the rapidly expanding realm of cinematography.
creativity and the constrictive limits of the tools available. However the
results of early special effects masters astounded audiences in their age in the
was brand new was, and still is, the key to the industry.
black cloth backdrop with white paint splattered off of toothpicks to simulate a
flying saucer in mid-flight.
at the intricate detailing of the blood-sucker’s razor-like teeth, bulging eyes
and a pointed nose and ears. “The Creature from the Black Lagoon” used a
mask gave an enhancement of sliminess added to the monster image. A fairly
by the master make-up artist Rick Baker who shows what can be done with a steady
hand and a lot of patience.
Another popular trick used was strings to manipulate miniature objects.
Often used in the science fiction era to show spacecraft or other objects in
flight was thin strings attached to miniatures. Audiences did notice the
being altered or moved very slightly at each interval of “cuts”. “King Kong”
worth the results. The teenage werewolf program used it to show the unfortunate
boy transforming into a raging beast. At each cut interval the special effects
“crew” (usually the producer and a make-up specialist) would add a little bit
achieved, although it was choppy. The reason for the choppy result is that when
using stop-motion the actor and camera must be kept as still as possible. If
not, when recording resumes the actor is not in the same place as when recording
was halted earlier. The result when viewing are “jumps” where the actor or
object moves instantly taking away from the image attempted. “King Kong” the
early form of stop-motion animation using clay models (claymation) as well as a
actresses while the other top half contained Kong and the stop-motion animation.
When specially glued together their was an entire audience gasping at the huge
difficulty. All later films incorporating super imposure used the more common
blue-screen that can take two filmstrips and set one as a background while the
other containing the person/object is filmed in front of a blue-screen that is
the canvas for editing the background film over it using a simple computer
program. “Star Trek” the popular sci-fi television show of the 60’s and 70’s
used mostly super imposure in it’s special effects.
George Lucas’ “Star Wars” trilogy of motion pictures was a cinematic
masterpiece that set the benchmark for special effects in movies. About ten
cinematography and was uncanny at how popular it became as a visual effects film.
analyzed them thoroughly and fine-tuned them in any way possible. His films use
stop-motion, super imposing, masks, make-up, intricately detailed model
miniatures, animatronics and lighting/pyrotechnic effects. Lucas works have
Gaining huge popularity worldwide for it’s visual effects, it has attracted a
huge cult following largely due to this.
An unorthodox method of visual imagery is a method called animatronics
motors or “servos” are then attached to imitate the animals muscles to move the
skeleton and make it walk. Next, many hollow rubber tubes are attached to
different parts of the skeleton. At the ends of these tubes are either hinges
or pegs that respond to pressure. When the operator squeezes the bulb, the pegs
or hinges respond by opening or extending. When attached to certain parts of
the skeleton, the face for instance, many variations in motion can be achieved
depending on how many their are. Finally the skeleton is covered with fur and
padding to attempt at the shape of a particular animal. Although the results
are quite impressive, the drawbacks of this method are that it is outrageously
expensive, and two skilled operators are needed to function it to capacity. One
does body motion while the other focuses on facial expressions. The movies
“Jaws”, “Babe” and “Jumanji” used animatronics.
touched the movie world and made a huge impact. Literally anything is possible
hundreds of thousands of dollars, 3D mesh object renderings are leaving all
is the latest way to get exactly what movie companies want in their films.
Flawless in appearance and challenging actual objects the viewer is often left
giants in this latest technique include Lucas’ ILM as well as Pacific Data
Images. Movies using mainly CGI include, “Independence Day”, “Terminator 2″ and,
of course, “Jurassic Park”.
Special effects have played an essential role in the motion picture
experience for over 70 years and with good reason. Whether it be a plate being
thrown across the screen or a computer generated Star Destroyer, a clay ape on a
cardboard Empire State Building or a T-Rex smacking his head on the side of your
jeep, the art of movie illusion will only cease to grow when our minds do.