Datenbank Glossar – Special Effects
||Glossar Special Effects|
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Definitions of Special effects
The illusions used in the film, television, theater, or entertainment industries to simulate the imagined events in a story are traditionally called special effects
Special effects are traditionally divided into the categories of optical effects and mechanical effects. With the emergence of digital film-making tools a greater distinction between special effects and visual effects has been recognized, with „visual effects“ referring to digital post-production and „special effects“ referring to on-set mechanical effects and in-camera optical effects.
Optical effects (also called photographic effects), are techniques in which images or film frames are created photographically, either „in-camera“ using multiple exposure, mattes, or the Schüfftan process, or in post-production processes using an optical printer. An optical effect might be used to place actors or sets against a different background.
Mechanical effects (also called practical or physical effects), are usually accomplished during the live-action shooting. This includes the use of mechanized props, scenery, scale models, pyrotechnics and Atmospheric Effects: creating physical wind, rain, fog, snow, clouds etc. Making a car appear to drive by itself, or blowing up a building are examples of mechanical effects. Mechanical effects are often incorporated into set design and makeup. For example, a set may be built with break-away doors or walls, or prosthetic makeup can be used to make an actor look like a monster.
Since the 1990s, computer generated imagery (CGI) has come to the forefront of special effects.CGI gives film-makers greater control, and allows many effects to be accomplished more safely and convincingly — and even, as technology marches on, at lower costs. As a result, many optical and mechanical effects techniques have been superseded by CGI.
In the field of special effects a miniature effect is a special effect generated by the use of scale models. Scale models are often combined with high speed photography to make gravitational and other effects scale properly.
Where a miniature appears in the foreground of a shot, this is often very close to the camera lens — for example when matte painted backgrounds are used. Since the exposure is set to the object being filmed so the actors appear well lit, the miniature must be over-lit in order to balance the exposure and eliminate any depth of field differences that would otherwise be visible. This foreground miniature usage is referred to as forced perspective. Another form of miniature effect uses stop motion animation.
Use of scale models in the creation of visual effects by the entertainment industry dates back to the earliest days of cinema. Models and miniatures are copies of people, animals, buildings, settings and objects. Miniatures or models are used to represent things that do not really exist, or that are too expensive or difficult to film in reality, such as explosions, floods or fires.
Stop motion (or frame-by-frame) is an animation technique to make a physically manipulated object appear to move on its own. The object is moved by small amounts between individually photographed frames, creating the illusion of movement when the series of frames are played as a continuous sequence. Clay figures are often used in stop motion animations, known as claymation, for their ease of repositioning.
All animation, including all stop motion, requires a camera, using either motion picture film or some kind of digital image capturing system, that can expose single frames. It works by shooting a single frame of an object, then moving the object slightly, then shooting another frame. When the film runs continuously in a film projector, or other video playback system, the illusion of fluid motion is created and the objects appear to move by themselves. This is similar to the animation of cartoons, but using real objects instead of drawings. Stop motion is used to produce the animated movements of any non-drawn objects, including toys, blocks and dolls. This is known as object animation.
Stop motion is central to the techniques used on popular children’s shows such as Gumby and most of the films of Claymation producer Will Vinton and his associates. Clay animation can take the style of „freeform“ clay animation where the shape of the clay changes radically as the animation progresses, such as in the work of Eliot Noyes Jr and Church of the Subgenius co-founder Rev. Ivan Stang’s animated films, or it can be „character“ clay animation where the clay maintains a recognizable character throughout a shot, as in Art Clokey’s and Will Vinton’s films.
A final clay animation technique is clay painting, where clay is placed on a flat surface and moved like „wet“ oil paints, as on a traditional artistic canvas, to produce images of any style, but with a clay look. It is a variation of the direct manipulation animation process, and blurs the distinction between stop motion and traditional flat animation. This technique was pioneered by one-time Vinton animator Joan Gratz, in her Oscar-nominated film The Creation (1980) and her 1992 Oscar-winning film Mona Lisa Descending a Staircase.