Special Effects

Topics: Computer-generated imagery, Film, Star Wars Pages: 6 (2966 words) Published: December 6, 2012
The Star Wars Trilogy, the first being the phantom menace, released in 2005 in an attempt to fill in the gaps in terms of the beginning of the epic tale and effects not previously possible in the original trilogy due to lack of technological knowhow was labeled a failure by the majority who filled the cinemas with high expectations. This also showed in the box office as it only netted about 43.5 million dollars when films like Chicago, even with all the critics managed to bag about 170.6 million dollars. It was a pop- culture calamity, a soul less, passionless film whose only real effect was to smudge the happy memories of the three originals (Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian, Thursday 9 February 2012, 21:45 GMT). Like Mr. Bradshaw, we all were expecting the innovation of CGI effects along with the excellent storyline portrayed in the original movies would finally do justice to the brilliant mind that was George Lucas. After the next two sequels were released, it became obvious to everyone that the story was second on the priority list and the producers probably concentrated on how to make the light saber look like an actual light saber. The argument here is does computer graphics imagery enhance the film industry or is it a self destruct button? This essay will attempt to explain briefly the early history of special effects, the term computer graphic imagery (CGI), why the film industry believe it's needed and its obvious consequences. Examples of certain movies with special reference to star wars) and directors will be cited to strengthen this argument.

Special Effects consist of producing effects that happen either in front of the camera or by treating the filmafter it has been shot in post-production through montage and animation of other filmed material (Dewdney and Ride 2006, p.42) or they are tricks film makers use to create events that cannot be done normally. Before CGI, special effects was elementary in its approach using the basic knowledge of light to achieve its purpose. Magicians in the 1700s would use the film projector to project images with light onto semi transparent slides to trick the audience into believing that they could summon the dead. They would even heighten the event by including columns of smoke. Using the concept of the projector, the invention of the magic lantern and the limelight followed. Using light and glass placed at specific angles, magicians could also make an object appear or disappear or become transparent. This technique was called Pepper's Ghost as it was first used on a member of a theatre audience called John Henry Pepper when he was thought to have been turned to a skeleton. The Motorist, a film done in 1905 with the help of Robert W. Paul was a film that pioneered special effects in the movie industry as he took it to another level. It was about a couple who drove so fast, they escaped the earth's gravity and travelled the solar system before returning home (the revolution of special effects in movies). He placed the car on the planet Saturn in one of the scenes because he had built a set in a room complete with the miniatures for all the scenes and cameras in every corner of the room. In the early 20th century, the Schüfftan effect which was used just like Pepper's Ghost was used by various film makers like the man himself, Eugene Schüfftan when he made Metropolis in 1927. He used it to place the actors into miniature skyscrapers which did not exist. More recently it was used in the Lord of the Rings for the King of the Dead whose head occasionally morphed to a more skull like version depending on his mood. As the possibilities of visual effects became clearer, film makers started to expand their ideas. The limitations of the traditional special effects techniques were soon felt by ambitious film makers like George Lucas. The first star wars was released in May 1977 ; it was meant to be released about five months earlier and the production lapses were responsible for...
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