Special Effects

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Evolution and Regression in Special Effects

As technology marches on, special effects in movies have gone from being practical to doing everything on a computer. Now as far as convenience goes, going digital is for the better. However, some will argue that digital effects will never compare to something that’s in front of the camera. So is it necessary to keep marching onward and keep improving digital effects or should we take a step back and try to make practical effects an honored practice again? We would need to realize the advantages and disadvantages for both of these special effects if we are to bring out their full potential.

  • There's a lot that can be explored here. One thing I have noticed is a movement toward using technology to achieve a pre-technology effect in cinema and animation. I think this largely stems from nostalgia, or a population that mourns the loss of traditional effects. One startling example is the Disney Lion Guard series - the creators have actually engineered the animation to look hand-drawn, with digitally enhanced "pencil" strokes similar to its film forefather, The Lion King, years before Pixar. Some would argue that this is a regression, but maybe this is how we attempt to move forward digitally while still paying tribute to practical effects. This brings up more questions like, is artistry completely lost in the digital landscape? Will digital become the only artistic platform left for effects? Is nostalgia the only reason to cling to practical effects, or are we also missing essential artistic elements by going with cost and convenience? – wtardieu 4 years ago
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  • Very important movie is Mad Max: Fury Road, whose practical special effects are almost good enough without CGI enhancement - however some CGI added to make it perfect. – Kevin 4 years ago
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Modern Cinema: Are Movies Becoming Just a Bunch of Special Effects?

We all admire the new techniques and special effects in movies we see in the cinema, but is there actually any value in them? You walk out of the cinema with your eyes full and your head empty. Are movies adopting a purpose just for entertaining? Films from the past, like Luc Besson’s Leon, or Blade Runner, or even Forrest Gump carry lots of food for thought, a vast emotional landscape and deserve to be called true works of art. Can we say the same about movies nowadays?

  • I totally get where you're coming from, but treating this as a symptom of "modern cinema" seems like a bit of a generalization. True, the issue has become grossly more inflate with each passing year since the 1980s, but that's only really one side of the industry, the flashy Blockbuster market designed for mass consumption. Let's just look at one year for a moment, 2014: sure, the box office was dominated by Transformers 4, The Hobbit 3, and Guardians of the Galaxy 1, but this was also the year of Boyhood, Whiplash, and Selma, as well as (in my opinion, two of the best films in recent memory) Leviathan and The Best Offer. Perhaps the issue isn't that all contemporary films are saturated in special effects, but rather that the films which employ extraneous spectacle with little substance consistently out-gross the more artistic films, which may say more about audiences than filmmakers. In fact, this very subject was handled expertly in Birdman (also from 2014), which made great use of special effects to enhance its artistry while simultaneously satirizing the current state of the popular cinema. – ProtoCanon 4 years ago
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  • Depends on what one means by art, I would tend to agree with you that a lot of movies don't seem to have any substance outside of the over-the-top special effect sequences, action movies in particular. Keep in mind though, that the people working on those special effects more than likely have computer design and art backgrounds. When looking at it from that standpoint, movies like Fast & Furious, The Avengers, X-Men, and so on, are more art-based than The Piano or Forrest Gump. The problem or question at hand, is whether or not studios are choosing more special effects filled mega releases over thought provoking 'works of art'? – MikeySheff 4 years ago
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  • I find that although films such as Independance Day: Resurgance do exist, wherein special effects are all the film has to offer, many a time, VFX aid storytelling in films today, and even blockbusters can remain compelling films despite the use of set pieces full of special effects, examples being Edge of Tommorow, Captain America: The Winter Soldier/Civil War, and Ex Machina, a film which used very expensive visual effects to tell a particularly intelligent and compelling story. – JacobSe7en 4 years ago
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  • This is a great topic. I think that the Hollywood film is the general type that appears in cinema today where there is flashing and violence and different uses of special effects to keep viewers interested. It seems that films these days are focusing too much on this aspect and not on the emotional aspect and I think this really takes something away from the culture of cinema. – alexadoiron 4 years ago
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