People are always amazed at how realistic special effects are in films nowadays. Technology moves on so quickly that even if you look back only a matter of 10 years you notice how poor the effects are in high budget Hollywood blockbusters like Hulk and 300. Even nowadays in the B and C rate movies you will notice some shocking special effects (generally these are in horror films!). So, what exactly do the top studios do to the films to make them look so impressive, films like ‘Life Of Pi’ and ‘Avatar’ that are breathtaking with their realism, in this article you will find out!
One of the movies that most people ask about when talking about special effects is ‘The Matrix’, the bullet time slow motion scenes where Neo is flying through the air, dodging bullets whilst the camera rotates around him is iconic. In order to produce this scene a large number of still cameras are set up and instead of all the photos being taken at once they are fired sequentially and continuously, the actor is set up in front a green screen background whilst the scene is being filmed so that the background can be changed to whatever is required. Green screen studios work by placing the actor in front of a green screen thus creating a large contract between then so that the background can later be altered and layered on, it is a similar technique to extracting photos in Photoshop. In The Matrix’s case Keanu Reeves will have been hanging from the ceiling by a wire to create the flying effect and then once this has been shot various morphing software will be used to interpolate between the images giving the slow motion look.
The other aspect of special effects that intrigues people the most is the animated film side of it. No other form of SFX shows just how far we have come than the realise of movies like Monsters Inc, Finding Nemo, Shrek and Toy Story. Every single character, scene and frame of these films is designed by somebody, it takes thousands of man hours to do it but the good thing about it is once you have made one, it is much easier and cheaper to make the sequel. The character models are created by designers who start off with a basic wire framework of the character and then gradually add textures and colour to it until it is the finished article, mathematical algorithms are then created so show how the characters hair would blow in the wind or how it would react to jumping etc..the information for this is gathered via ‘motion-capture’ technology which is where a human is a used to act out how a certain move and then hundreds of sensors attached to the body relate this to a computer image which is generated of it. Once all of the models and sets have been designed they are simply layered on top of each other to create scenes, the actors then come in and do their voice over work.
Sarah Hewitt is an experienced writer who writes about anything and everything that interests her, this can range from travel to business, sport and electronics. You can contact her via her Google+ page.
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