It’s been 13 years since James Cameron made history for Avatarand this summer, the trailer for Avatar: The Way of Water was revealed, preparing audiences for another trip to Pandora. They are also ready for the groundbreaking visuals that James Cameron is sure to provide, just as he does in every movie.
Each of Cameron’s films used or even perfected a new piece of visual effects technology and set the standard for subsequent films. But Cameron is only part of the landscape of visual effects in movies, and the technology for creating amazing sequences in movies has been breaking barriers since the inception of film itself.
The rotoscoping technique was invented by Max Fleischer as a way to animate in a more realistic way. The technique involved tracking every frame of a live action movie. This visual effect created an animation that moved in a very realistic way.
It turned out to be very labor-intensive as the animators had to track and re-track every movement of an actor’s scene. Koko the Clown is one of the earliest and most famous examples of the technique, created in 1915. However, it still saw much use even as CGI rose to prominence. the first three Star Warsthe films colored their lightsabers using a rotoscope to trace onto the wooden swords used by the actors during post-production.
9 double exposure
The next step in stitching together two different images was the double exposure. In the days of black and white film, this was achieved by filming the same scene twice, once with certain elements covered in black velvet and again without the velvet.
This early form of green screen saw wide use in the 1933s. The invisible manand surprised the public by covering the lead with black velvet, except on certain articles of clothing. She then performed her routine in front of an unlit stage. That scene was then superimposed over a visible set and the Invisible Man was born.
8 stop motion animation
This well-known animation process is as old as the film industry itself. In the late 19th century, the zoetrope was a form of early stop-motion animation. Viewers looked at the device and saw the images rotate, each one slightly different from the last to create an effect of movement.
As film technology improved, so did the art of stop-motion. Animators used the time-consuming technique more and more in their films and improved the reality of the animated characters. Ray Harryhausen pioneered the technique, patiently moving and rearranging his skeletal warrior models in each frame to Jason and the Argonauts creating an effect where the human characters appeared to be fighting animated monsters.
7 Sodium Vapor Process
Another name for the sodium vapor process is “yellow screen”, which should help explain what kind of process this film technique is. It was an early form of green screen technology and was used extensively by the Walt Disney Company, particularly in Mary Poppins, for which they won the Academy Award for Visual Effects.
The technology involved filming an actor in front of a white screen illuminated by sodium vapor lights. These lights (often used in streetlights) have a narrow color spectrum. A special filming device was then used to separate the actor from the background leaving two photos, one of the actor and a perfect silhouette cutout of him on a white background. This made it incredibly easy for the animators to add drawings that perfectly matched the actors’ movements.
6 go move
Filmmakers struggled for years trying to perfect the art of stop-motion and animate it in a way that would enhance the realism. All stop motion animation on film has a similar jerky quality because, unlike normal filming, the filmed model is perfectly sharp every frame. This aspect has its own charm, but the directors and animators were looking for something that would blend better with the live action.
Enter Industrial Lights & Magic (ILM), which took movement techniques from the 1930s and applied them to blockbuster hits like Star Wars Y Indiana Jones. Practical tricks like punching puppets, rocking tables, and applying Vaseline to the camera lens were techniques that created a realistic motion blur line to stop the movement of animatronics and models.
5 3D CGI
Computers completely changed the world landscape and the film industry was no different. The new tool essentially gave animators endless tools to design images and create effects in real three-dimensional space in a way that could never be done on paper.
The earliest uses of the technology were for static creations that still amaze audiences around the world. future worldthe sequel to the original Western world, was the first major film to include the technology. Computer generated imagery special effects appeared on the screen and VFX artists first saw the possibilities that computer graphics could do for animation and film.
4 3D computer animation
Generating images by computer was one thing, but integrating them into a movie as real animations was a completely different step. In some ways, 3D animation was the successor to stop-motion rather than 2D animation, as animators would create a 3D model and then animate every move of their creation. The computer gave artists the ability to be in control of every move.
The characters in these 3D animations were created by modeling “skeletons” and then overlaying any desired skins, textures, or clothing onto the model. Animation technology allowed designers to move the creation any way they wanted. terminator 2Y Jurassic Park used 3D animation to create movie history with their respective creatures and when PIXAR created the first 3D animated feature film, toy storythe door was wide open for the art form to take over the VFX industry.
3 chroma key
Chroma key is often better understood as green screen or blue screen, which is when the actor is placed in front of one of the colored screens so that images, usually computer generated, can be added in post-production. The chroma key techniques that audiences see today are extensions of the primitive matte black compositing used in the early 20th century.
The technique has received constant refinement and improvement over the decades and continues to be a staple of VFX studios. Lighting, camera exposure, and depth of field are variables that filmmakers have had to deal with to hide the fact that the actors are not in the environment shown on screen. To this day, audiences can spot mishaps in the effects of blockbusters as big as avengers.
two bullet time
The vignette time effect is often associated with a specific movie, Matrix, and that’s where the term comes from, but that movie just popularized and elevated a technique that’s been around since the late 19th century. Bullet time essentially describes separating the speed and movement of the camera (and thus the viewer) from the subject.
The effect of this bullet time cannot be achieved with normal slow motion or camera movements because the speeds required to capture something like a high speed bullet would be impossible. Instead, filmmakers like the Wachowskis set up dozens of cameras in an arc around the subject. Each camera takes a photo in quick succession and then those photos are stitched together to create a quick panning camera shot.
1 motion capture
Motion capture, or Mo-Cap, is the latest application of computer generated VFX technology. It involves the use of reflective markers on the subject who is then asked to move and act naturally. Multiple cameras then capture the moving dots and transfer the resulting animation to a computer. This results in a basic, yet natural, motion framework that an artist can animate on top of.
Lord of the Rings, pirates of the CaribbeanY Avatar they all used Mo-Cap technology to create fully CG characters, like Gollum and Davey Jones, who fit in as well as any live-action character. Avatar He went a step further and developed facial recognition technology that allowed the imperceptible facial movements of actors to be translated into a CGI character.
Next: 10 Movies You Didn’t Know Used CGI