world of special effects has changed - 'real' physical effects
work of models and miniatures has all but been replaced by
computer-generated images. For example, Enterprise,
the latest Star Trek saga, is the first production
in which all the space craft are CGI - so don't be expecting
an eBay auction of models from the show any time soon, reports
if TV is reliant on CGI for its special effects then the big
screen is truly wedded to the technology. It's probably fair
to say that without Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) there'd
be no Attack of the Clones - at least not as we saw
it - such is the movie's reliance of computer-generated effects.
Fortunately, the world-famous digital effects house was well
up to the task of helping create an image of the far future
as believable as the characters that inhabit it.
task of creating the effects shots for Attack needed
the setting up of three units, the workload made more arduous
by the film's use of digital doubles - computer generated
versions of 'real' characters. Take, for example, the fight
between Obi-Wan and Jango Fett. According
to Pablo Helman, one of ILM's effects directors: "I'd say
half of the shots in that scene are digital shots, at least."
doubles of some of the principal characters are also being
used in the latest seasons of Buffy and Angel.
"We've set up certain animation cycles - walk cycles, run
cycles, jump cycles, so that we can throw them into live action
very quickly," said Loni Peristere, creative director of Radium,
an effects company that has also contributed to Smallville.
similar approach is to archive reusable effects. "We have
a library of accumulated models in Buffy," explained
Peristere. "We constantly have flying knives, flying
axes, flying stakes, these kinds of things that need to be
augmented or enhanced in scenes, so we just have a library
of tools that we've accumulated that are photo real, and we
use them regularly.
company has also been responsible for the 'dusting' effect
used when vampires are staked. This has grown in complexity
over the years from a fairly simple explosion of dust in Buffy
season 1, to the mix of dust and skeleton that is now being
seen on screen.
with processing power increasing and image manipulation software
becoming ever-more versatile we can expect to see more use
of CGI in the future - and not just for SF and fantasy shows
and films. TV drama production like ER could soon be benefiting
from a little CG treatment. Except, of course, with the current
level of sophistication we won't being noticing the CG elements
as they'll look just like the real thing. Special effects
so special they'll be invisible.