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Movie Milestones: Special Effects vs. Visual Effects
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Select a school to learn more about our programs and simple processes for applying and enrolling. This world is no match for your imagination. It gives filmmakers greater control, and allows many effects to be accomplished more safely and convincingly and—as technology improves—at lower costs. As a result, many optical and mechanical effects techniques have been superseded by CGI.
In , Oscar Rejlander created the world's first "special effects" image by combining different sections of 32 negatives into a single image, making a montaged combination print. In , Alfred Clark created what is commonly accepted as the first-ever motion picture special effect. While filming a reenactment of the beheading of Mary, Queen of Scots , Clark instructed an actor to step up to the block in Mary's costume. As the executioner brought the axe above his head, Clark stopped the camera, had all of the actors freeze, and had the person playing Mary step off the set.
He placed a Mary dummy in the actor's place, restarted filming, and allowed the executioner to bring the axe down, severing the dummy's head.
Special Effects VS. Visual Effects: Which is Better?
Techniques like these would dominate the production of special effects for a century. It wasn't only the first use of trickery in cinema, it was also the first type of photographic trickery that was only possible in a motion picture, and referred to as the "stop trick". When he screened the film, he found that the "stop trick" had caused a truck to turn into a hearse, pedestrians to change direction, and men to turn into women. From to , the main innovations in special effects were the improvements on the matte shot by Norman Dawn.
Visual and Special Effects Film Milestones
With the original matte shot, pieces of cardboard were placed to block the exposure of the film, which would be exposed later. Dawn combined this technique with the "glass shot. From the partially exposed film, a single frame is then projected onto an easel, where the matte is then drawn. By creating the matte from an image directly from the film, it became incredibly easy to paint an image with proper respect to scale and perspective the main flaw of the glass shot. Dawn's technique became the textbook for matte shots due to the natural images it created.
During the s and s, special effects techniques were improved and refined by the motion picture industry. Rear projection was a refinement of the use of painted backgrounds in the theater, substituting moving pictures to create moving backgrounds. Lifecasting of faces was imported from traditional maskmaking.
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Along with makeup advances, fantastic masks could be created which fit the actor perfectly. As material science advanced, horror film maskmaking followed closely. Many studios established in-house "special effects" departments, which were responsible for nearly all optical and mechanical aspects of motion-picture trickery. Also, the challenge of simulating spectacle in motion encouraged the development of the use of miniatures. Naval battles could be depicted with models in studio. Tanks and airplanes could be flown and crashed without risk of life and limb. Most impressively, miniatures and matte paintings could be used to depict worlds that never existed.
An important innovation in special-effects photography was the development of the optical printer. Essentially, an optical printer is a projector aiming into a camera lens, and it was developed to make copies of films for distribution. Until Linwood G.
Dunn refined the design and use of the optical printer, effects shots were accomplished as in-camera effects. Dunn demonstrating that it could be used to combine images in novel ways and create new illusions. One early showcase for Dunn was Orson Welles ' Citizen Kane , where such locations as Xanadu and some of Gregg Toland 's famous ' deep focus ' shots were essentially created by Dunn's optical printer.
The development of color photography required greater refinement of effects techniques. Color enabled the development of such travelling matte techniques as bluescreen and the sodium vapour process.
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Many films became landmarks in special-effects accomplishments: Forbidden Planet used matte paintings, animation, and miniature work to create spectacular alien environments.