Practical Special Effects in Movies

Visual effects have evolved enormously over the last few years, while practical special effects have took a backseat.

Less than 10 years ago a film with 200 visual effects was considered a lot. Today it is usual for a film to have 1,000 shots or more VFX Shots. While all the advances in technology has made it easier to create amazing never before imagined worlds, many of the practical special effects techniques can still hold up to today’s CGI effects.

A practical effect is a special effect produced without computer-generated imagery (CGI) or other post production techniques. Some examples of practical effects are prosthetics, animatronics, puppets, gunfire, bullet wounds, rain, wind, fire, and explosions. So to honor this, we thought we would at some of the practical special effect.

The Dark Knight (2008): Tunnel car chase

In this clip from The Dark Knight they use several practical effects technique including a set of miniatures as well as flipping an actual 18- wheeler truck with an air piston.

How they actually did these stunts are further explained in these Dark Night BTS videos.

The Dark Knight Miniature Unit

The Dark Knight Truck Flip

Inception (2010)- Parisian street explosion

In this Parisian café scene from Inception this effect was created by using strategically placed air cannons.

Inception – Making of the Paradoxon Scenes

Here is a look at how they create some of the special effects in Inception.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004): Baby Joel in the kitchen

In this clip from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind they use a technique called forced perspective, which is a technique uses set design and camera angles to create the illusion that objects or people are larger or smaller than they actually are.

The Thing (1982): Decapitated head spider

In this scene from John Carpenter’s The Thing is a great example of what can be done with puppets and stop motion animation.

Categories: Post-Production,Tutorials

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