Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Evolution of Visual Effects, Good and Bad

The lines get a little blurry when discussing what constitutes as a good visual effect in movies and what constitutes as a bad one. Often times, people dislike a particular movie and then have a bias towards most of the effects used in the film. Other times however, due to a limited budget or not enough time and/or resources, an effect truly comes out as terrible as people make it out to be and unfortunately the movie suffers because of it.

Some poor special effects as noted in the article 'Top 24 Worst Special Effects of All Time' include: the light speed effect in The Shape of Things to Come, the wolf-out effect in Van Helsing, when the shark breaks through the deck of the ship in Jaws, the hyena attack in Exorcist: The Beginning, the head split in Total Recall, and many more interesting, but unfortunately unbelievable (literally) effects.

Some of the best special effects must also be noted, simply because the strides we have made in what can be achieved via visual effects is truly amazing. As noted in the article, 'Best Sci-Fi Effects of All Time', some notable effects are: the aliens in Men in Black, the 1954 original Godzilla, the bullet-time rig in The Matrix, the two faces of Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight, the Dumbledore vs. Voldermort battle in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the upside down fight scene in Inception, all the destruction in Independence Day, the aging effects in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, the character of Doctor Manhattan in Watchmen, almost all of the visuals in Pan's Labyrinth, most of the CG effects in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the monster in Cloverfield, and many more.

Though many of these selections are from movies of the past ten years, not all of them are. Which means that visual effects evolve into the amazing creations we see in movies today without some equally amazing older effects of the past to fall back on. Below is a video documenting how effects have evolved and changed over the past 100 years:

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