Special effects and digital transformation

The digital transformation has also touched the film industry, especially through social effects.

Special effects can be made while or after the shooting (in postproduction), or both.

Filmmakers use special effects for various purposes to:

  • Reproduce an atmosphere (rain, snowfall, mist, etc.)
  • Create a visual reality from imaginary elements (monsters, aliens, flying saucers, cosmic universe, etc.)
  • Preserve the integrity of actors or the scene (explosions, accidents, violence, natural disaster, scene of action, etc.

At the beginning, creating special effects was very complicated to realise as it was not digital as now.

That’s why, special effects », are also named « visual effects » or « faking » because at the beginning, it was more DIY with very few options than anything else.

For example, we used some optical illusion, camera stops by changing position before re-filming or we use make up to change a man into a monster (like in The Grinch).

But over time, this has changed.

(Click on this link to show  the timeline of speical effects http://the http://interne.ciclic.fr/misterfrise/frises/truc.html)

The first film with real special effect, before the digital, is King Kong. The producer uses the techniques of animatronics and stop motion.

After some time, the green background technique appears.

To make something fly, we use wires and we erase those after. That’s why, we can say that special effects are mechanic before digital.

With the digital transformation, make special effects became easier. 3D and synthesis images appears.

At the beginning of 90’s, we can notice a strong emergence of special effects, with Jurassic Park for example. At the end of the 90s and the beginning of the 2000s, we can notice a wave of blockbuster movies that will use digital special effects wisely: Matrix, Harry Potter, Spider-Man, etc. Cartoons changed also. They begin by drawing with a pencil, with very muck drawing and they take a lot of time. Now, motion design replace that. Digital sculpting can creates virtual 3D models, like in Toy Story.

A movie or a cartoon now takes less time to be realized thanks to digital transformation.

Written by Camille


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