Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Evolution of Special Effects

      This week's question was "How do media industries shape media audiences?" I addressed this by comparing early special effects that date back to the late 1800's to modern special effects technologies, focusing on Michael Bay's Transformers franchise. I discussed how the effects changed over the series and how special effects impact the audience.

      Special effects started out as simple effects like the stop-action effect and rear-projection which have progressed to computer generated optical and mechanical effects. I then showed a timeline of the evolution of special effects within film to give a sense of how drastically they have changed over the last century.

      With the first Transformers movie, the Industrial Light and Magic visual effects company expected their workload to be much less than what it turned out to be. ILM's Scott Farrar, has worked as the VFX supervisor for every Transformers movie.  The most significant change from the first movie was the addition of modern 3D effects which is done by what is called stereopsis -- an optical illusion or trick that our eyes play on our brain.

      The focus on continuity, attention to detail and addition of 3D effects played a significant role for the satisfaction of the audience. Continuity included focusing on the scratches, dents and scuffs from scene to scene made the content seem realistic. The attention to detail included the "film noir" look he went with in this film. 3D effects "pop" out to really draw the audience in, which is every filmmakers goal.

      One of my discussion questions was asking if you feel that the heightened expectations of special effects has made it more difficult to create new films with computer-animated characters? One student responded by saying that for the low-budget film industry this would inhibit them to create a successful action-packed film for viewers because of the costs for such technologies. He also said that it has set the bar for the rest of the film industry in creating new action films with special effects. I also asked what future films will look like and one student responded by saying with how highly defined the picture is and how real the effects seem to be, he could't really think of what they could come up with next, but was anxious to see.



Drate, Spencer, and Jütka Salavetz. VFX Artistry: A Visual Tour of How the Studios Create Their Magic. Amsterdam: Focal, 2010.

"How Have Special Effects Evolved Since the First TRANSFORMERS Movie - Nuke The Fridge." Nuke The Fridge. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Oct. 2014.

"TRANSFORMERS - AGE OF EXTINCTION: Scott Farrar - VFX Supervisor - ILM." The Art of VFX. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Oct. 2014.

Straubhaar, Joseph, and Robert Larose. (2008). Media Now: Understanding Media, Culture and Technology. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Company.

No comments: