Sunday, January 6, 2013

Shut-up Stupid Sunday: Special FX Guys

Tonight I'm going to watch the Rifftrax version of THE AVENGERS.

I saw the straight version already as well as the individual heroes movies that led up to it. That made me remember one thing that really made it stand out from the others. The lack of the “Aren't we great special effects guys” scene.

Ever since STAR TREK: The Motion Picture, which had the special effects guys do a scene showing the rebuilt Enterprise for what I think was three and half days, at least that's what it felt like, special effects heavy films have put in a long scene that shows off how great the special effects guys are.

In the past this was annoying, now it is pointless. The most pointless time was in CAPTAIN AMERICA.

My vision isn't the greatest, so some people might disagree, but in CAPTAIN AMERICA there was a long scene that was just a skinny guy doing normal stuff in front of a crazy camera man. If it weren't for the crazy camera work I'd think they forgot to turn off the camera. It wasn't until the scene was over that I realized, that was the “Aren't we great special effects guys” scene.

I had to say, “Yes you are great special effects guys, if you hadn't pointed it out I wouldn't know it was special effects.”

Later, after he changed into Captain America, they ran another scene like that. Again if it weren't for them pointing it out I wouldn't have noticed.

In THE AVENGERS, I don't remember any blatant “Aren't we great special effects guys” scenes. I remember special effects, but they were part of the story.

After 40 years of special effects work playing major parts of movies, special effects have reached the point where they aren't “special”. They are as normal as sound or color. These things can be done bad, and when they are they are really noticeable, but when they are done right it's just a way to get the viewer into the story. Special effects should be treated the same way.

So to any director that thinks about putting a “Aren't we great special effects guys” scene in their movie, I say, “Shut-up Stupid. The art of special effects has advanced to the point where if the special effects guys are really good we don't notice that it is special effects, so that scene is pointless. If the special effects guys aren't that good, that scene will point it out. Either way that scene now just takes the viewer out of the story.”

By Darrell B. Nelson author of I KILLED THE MAN THAT WASN'T THERE


Stephanie Barr said...

I remember when the special effects for Forrest Gump were up for an academy award. I was amazed - there were special effects in that? - but as they showed all the things they'd done in a segment, I was blown away about how I had completely bought into Gary Sinese's leglessness, etc.

That's how you use special effects, to make something look so real you don't even think about how it's not.

Darrell B. Nelson said...

Forrest Gump is another great example of using special effects correctly. I hated the movie for its own sake, not for any technical reasons.
I wasn't drawn into the story so much I didn't notice the special effects, but even noticing didn't take away from the story.

Michael said...

"Ever since STAR TREK: The Motion Picture, which had the special effects guys do a scene showing the rebuilt Enterprise for what I think was THREE AND A HALF DAYS..."