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The History Of Special Effects Film Studies Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Film Studies
Wordcount: 1529 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Movie Special Effects as such had very humble beginnings. Special effects are the various tricks used in the movies,television and theatre or entertaintment industries to create imaginary events in a story by technicians and cinematographer, while interfering with their equipment, which unexpectedly came up with some new effectsry events.

The two types of special effects are optical effects and mechanical effects.

Photographic effect are the techniques where images or film frames are developed photographically, either using multiple exposure in camera , mattes, or the Schufftan process, or during post-production processes using an optical printer, it is also known as optical effect. We create different and unrealictic background and place actors against them.

Effects created or done during live action or shooting of a film are called Mechanical effects or practical or physical effects action shooting, we use of mechanized props, scenery, scale models, pyrotechnics and Atmospheric Effects: creating physical wind, rain, fog, snow, clouds etc.

Visual effects (commonly shortened to Visual F/X or VFX) are the various processes by which imagery is created or manipulated outside the context of a live-action shoot. The integration and combination of live-action footage and generated imagery to create realistic environments is known as visual effects which would be rather dangerous, costly, or simply impossible to capture on film. Computer- Generated Imagery (CGI) is used for visual effects.


Invention of Effects:

In 1856, by combining different sections of 32 negatives into a single image the first and foremost trick photograph was created by Oscar Rejlader. And in the year 1895 Alfred Clark created the first-ever motion picture special effect.

In 1896, French magician Georges Melies discovered a trick called “stop trick”(a type of photographic trickery, possible only in a motion picture) which caused a truck to turn into a hearse; pedestrians were shown changing direction and men turned into women Melies’s was filming a street scene in Paris when his camera jammed. After screening the film, he accidentally discovered the “stop trick”. More effects like multiple exposures, time-lapse photography dissolves and hand painted colour were also developed by Melies in between 1914.

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Norman Dawn discovered some of the main innovations in the field of special effects on the matte shot from 1910 to 1920. Pieces of cardboard were placed to block the exposure of the film, which would be exposed later to produce original matte shot. He combined this technique with the “glass shot.” Dawn simply painted certain areas black to obstruct any light from exposing the film rather than using cardboard to block certain segments of the film exposure.

During the 1920s and 30s, the motion picture refined and improved and innovated the special effects techniques. Many techniques – such as the Schufftan process- were modifications of illusions from the theatre (such as pepper’s ghost) and still photography (such as double exposure and matte compositing). The refinement or a little imporvement of , substituting moving pictures to make moving backgrounds by using painted backgrounds in the theatre, was known as rear projection. Life casting of faces was imported from traditional mask making. There was advancement in the fields of makeup; different types of masks could be created which fit the actor perfectly.

New tricks and techniques were developed, such as the “stop trick”, which was original to motion pictures. Animation can create the illusion of motion, with drawings and with three-dimensional models, like Gertie the Dinosaur, the Last World, King Kong etc.

Miniatures are simulating the spectacle in motion. Battle scenes could be created or depicted with models in studio itself. Without risking anyones life or anything else tanks and airplanes could be flown and crashed. Quite impressively, miniatures models and matte paintings could be used to depict imaginary worlds that never existed or will. This is the most impressive thing about special effects that we can create anything by its help. Fritz Lang’s film Metropolis was the earliest special effects spectacular film in which miniatures was used in an innovative manner, and other effects like matte paintings, complex compositing and the Schufftan process were used.

Optical printer is an important innovation in special-effects photography. We use an optical printer as a projector to create copies of films for distribution which aims into a camera lens.

In order to create refinements in the effects technique the development of colour photography played an important role, with the help of colour photography , techniques travelling like matte techniques such as blue or green screen and the sodium vapour process were developed. Some of the examples like matte paintings, animation, miniature, etc. were used in the film Forbidden Planet to create an alien environment. In The Ten Commandments, John P. Fulton, A.S.C., generated more people in the crowds of extras in the Exodus scenes with careful compositing, the massive construction of the Rameses was depicted using models, and the Red Sea was shown spilt in a still-impressive combination of travelling mattes and water tanks.

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Many new special effects were developed during 1950 and 1960, it dramatically increased the level of realism and realistic environment in science fiction films which was quite an achievemant. Films could be establishing a new high-bench mark for special effects, it would be 1968’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, directed by Stanley Kubrick, who assembled his own effects team. In this film, small miniatures spaceship were created, they were highly detailed and carefully photographed for a realistic view. For the shots of spaceships hand drawn rotoscopes and careful motion-control work were carefully combined to ensure that the elements in the film were precisely set in the camera which was a surprising throwback to the silent era, but it created mind blowing and spectacular results. In the film “Dawn of Man” backgrounds of the African vistas sequence were combined with soundstage photography via the then new front projection technique. In order to create zero-gravity environments scenes, sets were staged or made with hidden wires, mirror shots, and large-scale rotating sets. To create hallucinogenic scenery and scenes a new technique termed slit-scan was used, which was created by Douglas Trumbull.

During the industry’s recession in the late 1960s and early 1970s, many studios closed down and so did their in-house effects houses. Many technicians became freelancers or founded their own effects companies, which specialized on many techniques like optical , animation, etc

There was two science fiction and fantasy films which were blockbuster success in 1977. George Lucas’s Star Wars bought in an era of fantasy and sc-fi films with expensive and impressive special effects. Effects supervisor John Dykstra, A.S.C. and crew members created many improvements and innovations in the prevailing effects technology. A computer-controlled camera rig called the “Dykstraflex” which allowed detailed repetition of camera motion; it greatly facilitated travelling-matte compositing and creation. Film images were degraded during composition which was greatly minimized by other innovations. The widescreen images or scenes were photographed horizontally using far more films per frame along stock; by Dykstraflex using Vista Vision cameras, and for the composition process thinner-emulsion film stocks were used. The effects crew which was assembled by Lucas and Dykstra had dubbed Industrial Light and Magic and since 1977 has lead to the creation of many innovations in the fields of effects.

In the same year, veteran Douglas Trumbull created most impressive special effects in Steven Spielberg’s film Close Encounter of the Third Kind. Trumbull developed his own motion-control system techniques for creating intentional “Len Flare”( its the shapes created by light reflecting in camera lenses) which provided the film’s with indefinable and true like shapes and images of flying saucers or alien spaceships.

Special effects success created new technique like CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) came up. Computer generated effects or CGI are more controllable than other more physically based processes, shots and hiring extras for CGI is mostly used for construction of miniatures for effects shots and for hiring extras for crowd scenes visual effects. With the help of CGI we can create images that cannot be feasible or possible without other technology. This techniques was first used in movies like 1973’s Westworld, it was a science-fiction film were robots live and work among humans in the same society, in its sequel 3D Wireframe imagery was first used .


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