Effects by Tom Dorling

Special effects are used in movies to simulate imagined events, beings or objects which can’t be accessed any other way. As cinema has developed special effects have been used more and more by directors as the technology needed has become more easily accessible. In films such as The Hobbit special effects are very evident throughout. In many cases special effects add to films in plenty of positive ways including creating a great spectacle. However when overused like in The Hobbit they can take away from the viewer’s experience and make the film feel fabricated. Most films nowadays will have some form of special effects as it’s become vital in modern cinema.

There may not be enough artists to meet the ever increasing demand for visual effects shots[1]. As the use of visual effects in movies increases demand for special effects artists also increases. However the supply of these artists isn’t increasing at the same rate which has caused an obvious problem. Movies have become maybe too reliant on special effects in the modern age and this is the result. This puts special effects in a positive light as it shows how essential it is to filmmakers today. The heavy reliance cinema has for special effects in the 21st century is now taking its toll not just on quality of film but also production of film. In turn the shortage of artists that are needed for special effects could be a blessing in disguise. It may see films that would usually be too dependent of CGI use less of it and possibly be better for it.

CGI is a type of special effect which is what has been used in The Hobbit as well as other films. Green screens are used to present these images in films. The use of CGI or special effects can cause difficulties for actors. Actors must constantly summon dramatic performances while looking at scenery and co-stars which aren’t there[2]. Acting with special effects can be very awkward for actors since you have to focus not just on acting but on making it feel like someone or something is there with you when it’s not. Even if it doesn’t involve physical contact with the special effect. An extra dimension is added for the actors. The increased use of CGI may also cause the demand for actors to fall as CGI can take their place for a smaller expense. This is a big problem since unemployment will rise for actors and this creates many other problems for them and the economy.

However special effects have their positive aspects also. Many films now depend hugely on special effects. Without Massive, the battle scenes on Middle Earth would have been near impossible to create[3]. Massive is a program which produces a certain type of special effect in which a large number of people or objects can be included. These battle scenes were from the Lord of the Rings trilogy which is argued as the best trilogy of all time. This argument wouldn’t exist without special effects. Special effects can be used for scenes containing lots of subjects as in the case of Lord of the Rings or for scenes with a few or one subject. In both cases a scene can be transformed into exactly what the director was looking for with all the technology available to them. This is probably the most useful thing about special effects as a director can have an idea of what he want a movie to look like and then pull it off without too much hassle.

As special effects have developed they have been used more and more often by filmmakers because of the quality of image presented. As technology develops so do the special effects used in film. This is evident as you watch the development of film over the last 20 years or so. In many respects I do believe visual effects have got to the point where photorealism is not only possible but common[4]. Special effects are now at a very advanced level and so not many filmmakers are in a position to turn away from them when they can improve their product greatly. The possibilities are endless when using special effects as pretty much anything can be created from scratch. Yet even though they are used in almost all films filmmakers are usually very cautious about how much special effects they use. Many filmgoers have problems with a lot of CGI and this is of massive importance to the filmmakers.

In conclusion, the use of special effects in cinema is now very evident and this carries with it both positives and negatives. The negative are mainly associated with the overuse of them and the inclusion of them when they’re not needed. Many people argue that CGI and special effects makes films feel less authentic as it’s not real and fabricated. As technology developed inevitably special effects would be more abundant in films and this has led to a larger variety of films to be created. This helps cater to more movie fans and also incentivises more people to get involved in film maybe as directors. Special effects also provide filmmakers with many more possibilities than they had had previously allowing them to be more creative and inventive. The lack of artists is of course a problem and this may get worse which may mean that alternatives will be needed. The industry is now very reliant on special effects and so training for special effects artists needs to be made more accessible to people.

[1] Carolyn Giardina, As The Demand For Visual Effects grows a Shortage of Artists Looms Ahead, The Hollywood Reporter, April 28 2016

[2] Don Steinberg, Actors and Visual Effects: How to Behave on a Green Screen, The Wall Street Journal, June 18 2015

[3] PC Plus, How visual effects transformed the movies, techradar, August 30 2015

[4] Humans Invent, The Evolution of Visual Effects in Film, Gizmodo, 29 July 2013


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