Visual Effects | Activity 1 | Teacher’s Resource Guide | YMI, Ltd./AMPAS
Visual and physical effects are two major components of the special effect process. Visual effects takes into account the various factors of image manipulation, no matter if they are set during post-production or principal photography. Also noted as practical effects, physical effects is typically demonstrated live using elements from the real world. These can include everything from weather related effects and explosions to stunts.
Persistence of vision is a major phenomenon when it comes to making motion pictures. Through the ability to retain impressions using the human eye once the image has disappeared, the brain can then read the rapidly progressing images in one unbroken stride.
Georges Méliès was a French magician and filmmaker. He was one of the first in his field to explore the method of persistence vision during the 19th and 20th centuries. By stopping, changing or moving the camera and various objects and then setting the camera back into motion once again, he could turn these items into different people or objects. For example, his film Cinderella in1899 showcased a pumpkin that turned into an elegant coach for Cinderella to ride in. The technique is called stop-motion photography, and it’s still in use today by various visual effect and animating artists. Méliès also mastered other techniques that included fast and slow motion effects, double exposure and dissolved where he created “trick filmmaking.”
Edwin S. Porter first introduced visual effects with “The Great Train Robbery.” Instead of tricking the audience, the visual effects added to the realism of the film. He did this by using a device called matte that prevents parts of the movie from being fully exposed. By combining footage taken of a robbery inside a telegraph office, Porter could separate with a scene of a moving train. Once projected, viewers will witness the train racing past the window as the action unfolds inside the office.