You should note that special and visual effects are not the same. Special effects are old school on-set mechanical and in-camera optical effects, while visual effects refer to anything added or edited in digital post-production. The latter tend to be the most exciting effects, as demonstrated in recent movies like Inception or Tron Legacy.
The following neat movies give you an insight into the art of movie effects. You are bound to be amazed.
This video provides an overview of over 100 years of movie making. From the 1900 silent movie The Enchanted Drawing to the 2008 movie The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, the collection of clips shows some (not all) important milestones in the history of movie making, backed up by footage that reveals how the effects came to life.
Also check out this 2010 remake of the video.
This scene is a visual effects concept test that doesn’t actually appear in the full movie.
Play takes you into a world in the not-too-distant future where it has become almost impossible to distinguish between reality and video games. One game melts into the next and the player is left with endless confusion.
This was the final assignment for an art course. It applies the old school technique of creating an animated movie from still pictures a.k.a. stop-motion animation. The flipbook streches across 2,100 pages and took about three weeks to make.
The film was made in response to an animation challenge on Bricks In Motion, an online filmmaking community. The lightsaber and blaster effects were all done in Photoshop.
This music video is another great example for stop-motion animation.
In this Oscar winning animation short film from 1989, Wallace & Gromit creator Nick Park puts the words of people interviewed in public into the mouths of animals. Hilarious piece!
Embedding has been disabled for this movie, therefore you have to go directly to YouTube to view it.
An animated short film about a man and his alien friend fishing for rockfish in a distant future.
This documentary style film was created by the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH). The journey starts in the Himalayas and seamlessly takes viewers through Earth’s atmosphere into space. The data for the stars, planets, and quasars shown in this film are provided by the Digital Universe Atlas, a four-dimensional map of the universe that is maintained and updated by astrophysicists of the AMNH.
More information about the Digital Universe Atlas is available on its website.
This 1927 masterpiece of German director Fritz Lang continues to fascinate and impress people until this day and age. It was the most expensive still film ever created and a milestone in movie history. The restored version of the movie is available on YouTube in 12 small chunks of 10 minutes each. Below is the first part.
Did you get curious about movie effects? If you’re interested in learning how to create effects yourself, check out Film Riot’s YouTube Channel. Also HowStuffWorks has some very enlightening special effects articles. To see more compelling special effects from popular movies, review the Top 50 Movie Special Effects Shots on Den of Geek.
If you enjoyed the above videos, also check out these MakeUseOf articles:
- 10 Cool Full Length Amateur Movies on YouTube by Nancy
- 10+ Amazing Short Films You’d Not Believe Were Made With Free Software by Jessica
- 10 Awesome Free Documentaries That You Can Watch Online by Angela
- Watch 5 Cool Fan Films Online & Keep Track Of Other Upcoming Fan Productions by Saikat
What are your favorite special effects in movies? Do you think directors today go overboard with effects?
Image Credits: Texelart
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