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How Special Effects Work: Then And Now

Let’s travel down the path of how the special effects have changed from then and what they are now.

Blue screen being used.

Blue Screen (1940)

 The technique of blue screen started with The Thief of Bagdad.

They used it for making the effects of a travelling matte.

A solid colour was replaced after the shoot with the images required.

Animatronics (1975)

Spielberg used this technique in his ‘Jaws’ before modern technology took over.

The real size models of the creatures were made whether they were dinosaurs or sharks to give the real feel of it.

Used CGI to create the epic lightcycle race.

First Computer Generated Imagery (1982)

With the combination of backlit animation and technology used inside video games to create virtual reality, the movie Tron was shot.

The highlight was the use of CGI to create the epic Lightcycle race which lasted for 20 minutes.

First Computer Generated Character (1985)

Adding another achievement in his bag, Spielberg introduced the very first photorealistic animated character in the form of a glass knight, chicken and cakes which all come to life.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit

Hand Made Animation (1988)

A new trend picked up from the movie ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’ where imagery painted and manually drawn was used in combination with live action.

3D and blue screen was used to create the visual effects.

Creating The Twin Effect (1989)

Split screen photography was introduced this year with the movie ‘Back to the Future Part II’ where individual section had the actor playing three roles simultaneously.

VistaGuide camera system with its motion control was used for qualitative production.

Toy Story

Animation (1995)

Toy Story became the baby product of Disney and Pixar with John Lasseter creating the much loved characters of Buzz Lightyear and Woody among various others.

This created a revolution in the animation industry.

Slow Motion (1999)

The Matrix is the classic example of the use of slow motion in an action movie from where this became an overused technique especially in action and mainstream comedies.

Marvel’s green screen scene.

Green Screen (2000)

The blue screen was converted into this to start the process of digital composting. Images weren’t added to the backdrop now but a bunch of them were put together to give the real effect as can be witnessed in many Marvel projects.

Massive (2001)

The Lord of the Rings is the very first example of the use the CGI system – ‘Massive’.

Thousands of digital characters were created to act alongside human ones.

This coupled with specialized make-up made the movie as perfect as the novel.

Performance Capture

Performance Capture (2004)

Robert Zemeckis cleverly used the technology of performance capture in the movie ‘The Polar Express’ where the movements of the human actor were computerized to follow the same action.

Mo-Cap (2006)

The cast of the movies started being covered in green fabric to match the screen so that they were detected easily by the computer such that pasting realistic movements on them became easier.

Dual Function Camera (2009)

With the experience accumulated throughout his career, Cameron made a dual function camera which shot in 2D and 3D.

Motion capture enhanced the effects and the land of Pandora breathed more realistically than imagined.

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