At AirSquib, we are huge fans of all kinds of special effects, not only the ones that include blood! Special effects have been around for a long time, believe it or not. They were first used in Georges Méliès film from 1890. (yes, can you imagine!), so we can say that they are as old as the cinema itself. Optical, mechanical, visual, post-production – there are many types of special effects, and here are our favorite fun-facts about a few of them:
1) The record-holding animated film
In case you didn’t know, animated movies fall into the category of special effects, and the highest-grossing stop-motion animated movie is Chicken Run, which earned around $225 million. Yes, that much. They are followed by another masterpiece by the same author, Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.
2) Come to the.. bright side?
Original Star Wars movies were filmed at the end of the seventies, and to create lightsaber blades, the filmmakers used a technique called Rotoscoping. This complicated process involves taking each individual frame of the film, and tracing over the same said frame, and repeating the process over and over again. They were not that digital-savvy back then and saying that it took a lot of work would be an understatement. But it looked awesome! I personally worked on “Big Trouble in Little China” where I was part of the team that inserted sparks on the flying Chinamen’s hats – using the Rotoscoping technique.
3) Stanley Kubrick, more like Stanley COOLbrick
We can all agree that Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey is an absolute masterpiece. However, during the scenes where the actors were levitating in no-gravity zones, Kubrick simply hanged them with wires to the top of the set and filmed them by placing the cameras at angles that hid the wires. He also saved money for not having to pay a special-effect artist. Genious.
4) Live action and animation combination
Disney’s famous movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit is the of the first movies to combine these two forms of art. Physical filming of the movie took a long, long time – 7 months. But post-production and animation, took double that time. It’s serious work, especially when you want to reach the Disney level of quality.
5) How they did it before the invention of AirSquib?
In the beginnings of cinema, directors, and sometimes actors, wanted everything to be as authentic as possible. That lead to some seriously questionable decisions being made. James Cagney, an American actor, said that several gangster films that he worked on featured people firing actual guns and putting actors in serious risk of being shot by a real bullet from real guns. He later formed Screen Actor’s Guild, devoted to protecting actors from directors’ risky ideas. If they only had AirSquib back then. If would have been much safer!