Posted: March 15th, 2022
Special effects are a force of defining importance in modern filmmaking, both at the independent and mainstream levels. Such innovations as stop-motion animation, CGI integrated cinematography and animatronix all have altered the look of films and have caused the audience to expect an extremely high standard of visual acuity where special effects are concerned. Employed to the purpose of exacting a realistic impression such as the recreation of a historical period or with the intent of creating an altogether unprecedented universe in a science fiction film, special effects are those features of an infinite array of potential sources and types which portray events or actions through elaborate simulation. The primary argument of this research examination will be that special effects distribution has had the impact of allowing filmmakers to achieve heretofore impossible visions of both the most imaginative abstraction and the most stunning realism, both improving the artistic and aesthetic opportunities available to modern cinema.
Statement of the Problem:
The use of special effects today cannot be given a connotation from a critical standpoint. Value judgment on the subject does not provide much insight because there are both positive and negative examples of the use of special effects which do not conform with other aspects of cinematic critique. Certainly, it is quite simple to argue that in such a case as the Matrix, special effects have helped to visually portray an abstract and compelling principle, truly altering the form and the expectation of the audience. Likewise, it might be quite simple to argue that the high-budget special effects used to produce Kevin Costner’s famously disastrous and reviled Water World are an example of how a dependency on special effects can actually be quite damaging. However, there is a considerable middle ground in film-making, wherein which the quality of special effects may itself be regarded as the important and critically worthy aspect of a film, such as in Terminator 2, Star Wars and Jurassic Park. Each of these films would accomplish this feat of recreating the visual slate for audiences and filmmakers, even if fundamentals such as acting and writing were relatively secondary concerns. This is an essential consideration of the problem facing our analysis. The middle ground between critical consideration and an unwavering endorsement of the value of special effects is the argument here that special effects are allowing filmmakers in all areas of the medium to accomplish previously unattainable goals.
Description of Purpose and Expected Results
The purpose of this examination is to illustrate that films of limited critical appeal have nonetheless had the occasional impact of genuinely impacting or altering the form. This is to say that the research will be invested in yielding observations on films which are distinctive primarily for their special effects appeal and not for their cultural or commercial significance. It is anticipated that a critical evaluation of such films from the perspective of their success with special effects orientation will illustrate that special effects use in films can have a transformative impact on the medium that ultimately translates into more culturally and commercially significant applications of similar technological advancements.
Description of Methodology
In order to demonstrate the claims made here above, the research will employ an extensive source review. In addition to considering some core theoretical literature concerning the history and philosophical imperatives relating to the use of special effects in films, the research process will primarily engage a variety of primary cinematic sources. By selecting a liberal sampling of films that may be distinguished for their use of special effects and their relative critical and commercial irrelevance, the research will create an extensive sampling for qualitative evaluation.
The research project will report the sequence of steps leading to the selection of films for consideration, including preliminary selection, viewing selection and selection for analysis. This last category will result in a report on the impact of special effects use both on the film and on a broader industry level. Outcomes will be integrated into an overarching set of findings and conclusions concerning the relationship between special effects in the selected films and the goal of filmmakers as a whole to achieve as close a proximity to their respective visions as possible.
Schedule/Timetable for Carrying out of Project (my time frame is 8 weeks)
This research will occur over eight weeks. This duration will be divided into four two-week segments. The first segment will be devoted to created a cinema viewing list and assembling relevant literature for improvement of that process. The second segment will be devoted to narrowing down the initial list and viewing the films selected for consideration. The schedule will retain the flexibility to lengthen this segment where it may be deemed as necessary, deducting time from the end of the first segment or the start of the third. The third segment will be dedicated to analysis of the films reviewed. Likely, this step will begin with an establishment of credentials by which a viewed film may be due for analysis. The final segment will be dedicated to the synthesis of a report on the findings yielded.
Conclusion and request
The proposal here is precipitated by the basic understanding the special effects offer an opportunity to filmmakers not afforded to those working in more static media. As our research finds, “those special effects technologies and techniques that have sought to bring impossible, never-before-seen images to the screen have most often been the inspiration for fans’ desire to participate in the production of special effects (whether in a professional capacity or in the form of home production).” (Pierson, 3) This is to say that we may handily dismiss the all-encompassing claim that special effects are simply and overwhelmingly encouraged by commercial motives. And indeed, a fully separate discussion should be employed to determine the empirical relationship between the usage of production-dominating special effects and the achievement of lofty commercial indices. However, for the purposes of the current research evaluation, the argument by Pierson is central. Here, we are given some support for the claim that Special Effects proliferation in the film industry has had reciprocal relationship with innovation at a wide array of levels.
The process of conducting this research is preceded by the request here both for approval of the methodology proposed and for the resources to engage the film content review here proposed.
Fielding, R. (1985). Techniques of Special Effects of Cinematography. Focal Press.
Mitchell, M. (2004). Visual Effects for Film and Television. Focal Press.
Perkins, M. (2006). Digital Camera Tricks and Special Effects 101: Creative Techniques for Shooting and Image Editing. Portal.acm.org.
Pierson, M. (2002). Special Effects. Columbia University Press.
Sefton-Green, J. (2005). Timelines, Timeframes and Special Effects: Software and Creative Media Production. Education, Communication and Information.
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