do they do that !". This is the big question in the minds of awestruck
movie audiences worldwide watching a well-made Special Effects
movie. Humans fly, prehistoric dinosaurs come back to life, space ships
engage in dogfights, oceans submerge cities... Is there a limit to what
the effects guys can achieve on screen ?!
we are venturing into an era where technology is no
limitation to bringing magic onto the screen. Only imagination is. What
emerges on the story board, finally lands on celluloid. How that
actually happens is what this web site is all about. "How do they do
that ?!" Well here's how.
is both an art and a science.
part involves the complete understanding of how the audio-visual
sensory parts of our body and brain perceive the world around us, while
part involves the strategic use of this information to fool the sensory
evolved over the last 100 years.
Special Effects range from highly sophisticated techniques like visual
effects or photo special effects to the mundane effects like special
effects make up or even special effects hair dye.
The table shown below lists the various scientific phenomenon that work
behind the various special
effects. First study the
scientific facts, and then see how they are exploited by the gurus of
a bright light for a few seconds and then abruptly close your eyes. The
image of the light seems to stay in your eyes a little longer even
though your eyes are closed.
This phenomenon is termed as Persistence of Vision because the vision
seems to persist for a brief moment of time.
of the eyes
are excited by light, they send
impulses to the brain which are then interpreted as an image by the visual
in the brain. The cells in the retina continue to send impulses even
after the incident light is removed. This continues for a few fractions
of a second till the retinal cells return back to normal. Until that
time, the brain continues to receive impulses from the retina, and
hence seems to perceive an image of the source of light, giving rise to
the phenomenon called Persistence of Vision. Back
The Principle of Motion Picture is totally based on the phenomenon of
Persistence of Vision. Without it, motion picture as we know it simply
would'nt exist. Our eyes can retain a picture for a fraction of a
second after seeing one. Before this time frame expires, if a another
similar picture is shown in its place, the eyes see it as a
continuation of the first picture, and don't perceive the gap between
If a series of still pictures depicting progressively
is flashed before the eyes in rapid succession, the eyes see it as a
scene depicting smooth, flowing action. All visual media (Movies, TV,
Electronic Displays, Laser Light Shows, etc) exploit this phenomenon.
Thanks to Persistence of Vision, our entertainment
could make a transition from perpetual live shows like dance and
dramas, to recordable entertainment like movies. Back
Motion of an object is the continuous displacement
of the object in space with reference to another object. In the absence
of a reference object, motion ceases to be apparent. What this means is
that motion is always measured in relation to another object, which is
used as a reference point.
we drive, the road & the surroundings move past us. Thus we get
the sensation of motion. So the road & surroundings are our
reference points. When we fly, the earth beneath us is our reference
point. But as you can see, the closer the reference point, the more
acute the sense of motion. That's why astronauts in orbit seldom sense
speed (though they are moving at thousands of miles an hour ) because
earth, their only reference point is quite far away.
but what has this got to do with Special
?! A Sfx
technique called Compositing
totally relies on the way our mind perceives motion. Compositing
is one of the most useful tools in a Sfx
technician's bag of tricks. Keep these two in mind; the object, and its
reference point(s); both of these are necessary to perceive motion in a
A series of sketches based on the final draft of the script depicting
various scenes in the story, which the director, cameraman and the art
department use to plan for each scene. Back
Special Effects :
There is a wide range of effects that is used in the industry. You have
front / back projection, compositing, cel animation, computer
animation, rotoscoping, stop-motion & go-motion animation,
puppetry, pyrotechnics, miniature / model making, matte paintings,
makeup effects, stunt effects, sound effects and a host of other
effects techniques. The list keeps growing as time goes by. Sometimes
older techniques give way to newer and more sophisticated ones. And as
stated earlier, Special Effects range from highly sophisticated
techniques like visual effects or photo special effects to the mundane
effects like special effects make up or even special effects hair dye. Back