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Special Effects (redirected from Special percent20Effects)

Page history last edited by Nykki Montano 11 years, 10 months ago

Special Effects (SFX) are illusions designed to simulate imagined events, they are used in a wide variety of different entertainment styles. Specifically, special effects in film refer to on-set mechanical effects and in-camera optical effects, not to be confused with "visual effects," which refers to digital post-production. [1]


Special effects fall into several categories:


Optical Effects


Optical effects (also called photographic effects), are techniques in which images or film frames are created photographically, either "in-camera" using multiple exposure, mattes, or the Schüfftan process, or in post-production processes using an optical printer. [4]


Mechanical Effects


Mechanical effects, also referred to as practical or physical effects, are usually achieved in the midst of live-action shooting. This includes the application of mechanized components such as props, scenery, and pyrotechnics. Set designs incorporating trap doors, combustible components, and other moving mechanical parts, as well as make-up and prosthetics, are examples of mechanical effects. Also, creating weather (wind, rain, fog, snow, clouds, etc) is considered to fall under the category of mechanical effects. [1] [4]


The picture below, taken from the final sequence of 1946's La Belle et la Bête, depicts two distinct mechanical effects: the smoke emitting from behind Belle, as well as the harnesses responsible for suspending the actors in the air:



For more information on the mise en scene in La Belle et la Bête please check out the following page: Mise en Scene in La Belle et la Bête





Computer generated imagery, in film terms, is the utilization of computer graphics instead of, or in addition to, mechanical and optical effects. In some applications it allows special effects to be accomplished more convincingly; however, many people have expressed distaste for the current abuse of CGI in modern film. [1]


The picture below, taken during the filming of Pirates of the Carribean 2, depicts the actors before and after CGI treatment:




The Schüfftan Process


Popularized by the German cinematographer Eugen Schüfftan during his work on the 1927 film Metropolis, the process utilizes a plate of glass placed at a 45-degree angle between the camera and a miniature model or background. The mirror then reflects the image of the miniature model, which is positioned directly behind the camera. Parts of the mirrored surface are then scratched away to correspond to areas where the actual footage is composited, giving the camera an unrestricted view of the scenery. [3]






Mattes are used to combine two or more elements of an image into one singular image. Typically, a background image (usually consisting of scenery or some inanimate object) is combined with a foreground image (actors, characters, etc) to produce the final result:                                                                          [1]






Prosthetic makeup techniques utilize casting, molding and sculpting to create cosmetic effects. The process begins when a mold is made around the specific part of the actor whom the prosthetic is intended for. Once the mold is created, it is filled with gypsum cement. After the cement dries, it is then sculpted into the look desired for the character. Typically, several molds are created during this process, albeit for a variety of different reasons. [1]


In his 1946 film, La Belle et la Bête, director Jean Cocteau utilized many prosthetic effects to achieve the appearance of the Beast and other characters. The picture below depicts the Beast as he appears in the film, complete with full facial prosthetics:



The picture below shows actor Tim Curry before (left) and after (right) the application of prosthetic make-up.






Special Effects: The History and Technique. Rickitt, Richard. Watson-Guptill (October 1, 2000) [1]

A Short History of Film [2]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sch%C3%BCfftan_process [3]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_effect [4]

Comments (2)

Sean Desilets said

at 11:59 pm on Oct 7, 2009

Definitely want to link to B & B mise-en-scene page

Sean Desilets said

at 11:57 pm on Oct 7, 2009

* Many examples needed (though the _Metropolis_ one is fantastic)
* Interpretive stuff pretty much absent--would have to think about the consequences of particular kinds of effects
* Curry looks more even in the before picture.

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