When to use Special Effects.

Prospero Website User Posts: 127
edited March 2012 in General
So you've got your script, and you've got lots of ideas for cool effects to go into your movie. You just know they'll be awesome. But will they? A few suggestions about including effects in your film.
1] Is the effect integral to the plot of the movie? If you answer "No but the explosion of the frammerjammitz will be really cool." think again.
2] If you use the effect will it be a seamless part of the film? Does it fit in with the reality of your created "world" ? Unless you're going against your genre certain things could be jarring.
3] "But light saber battles and explosions are cool!" Yes they can be and you can make movies doing just that. Unfortunately many people have. If you have a diffferent story to tell or an intriguing way of presenting them, go right ahead.
4] Will the effect be cg or a manual effect. If manual do you have the ability/money to create it.
If its an explosion, do you have the neccessary qualifications in your state, province or country to be able to create it and set it off safely. If not, air cannons and other non explosive means may be the way to go.
5] Ask yourself why am I using this effect, does it have to be there, will it enhance the story I'm telling. If you believe that it should be there then put it in. It is a fine balancing act. I saw a film recently where magic is a main part of the storyline but the fx were so over the top and at such a constant barrage to the viewer's senses it didn't give them time to catch their breath, reflect or enjoy the story. Sometimes less is more. Any thoughts? :D


  • Prospero
    Prospero Website User Posts: 127
    Also never forget Prospero's rule on dunebuggies in movies.
  • MasterWolf
    MasterWolf Website User Posts: 369
    i forgot the rule on dune buggies, what is it?
  • RomanRuinFilms
    RomanRuinFilms Website User Posts: 51
    "If a dune buggy is used in a film eventually the hero will either pursue or be pursued by the enemy/monster using a dune buggy. Or use it to drive wildly across the desert to give the audience a cheap action scene."
  • MasterWolf
    MasterWolf Website User Posts: 369
    oh yeah, that rule
  • Prospero
    Prospero Website User Posts: 127
    The dune buggy rule states that should said scene exist in the film, odds are it is a bad movie. :(
  • budwzr
    budwzr Website User Posts: 655
    But I've seen some great movies with dune buggies in them....hmmm...let me think...umm...
  • MasterWolf
    MasterWolf Website User Posts: 369
    edited March 2012
    thinking i need to make a movie with a dune buggy
    I'm more of a fan of classic sci-fi and horror films. Films ranging from the 1930s up to about the early 80s. This was the era before CGI. Everything was a practical effect in some way.
    I want the story and the characters to drive the film, the effects are there to set the scene or just to tweak the movie. They have to serve the story, not distract from it.
    A great classic sci-fi film actually fits your avatar Prospero. Forbidden Planet is a retelling of Shakespeare's The Tempest. When Morbius is showing them around the city of the Krell, there are some great mat shots. Mat paintings had been used in films for years, but i don't remember seeing animated mat shots before. Back then they mostly used cartoon animation, there is one awesome model shot where the actors walk across a bridge in the middle of the model. I'm still scratching my head as to how they pulled that off with out mo-con camera or digital tracking. I know the actors and the bridge were filmed separately on a sound stage and the model tube was filmed on its own... but how the heck did they line up? Its easy now, but that was the 1960's.
    Again, as for effects serving the story. The Id monster in that film is invisible. The only time you see it is when it comes in contact with the "energy fence". Had they not had that scene I think the movie would have bombed. You needed to see the monster. But the characters are so good, and the story so interesting, that you are completely accepting of the big cartoon monster. Even today, I know its a cartoon, its still kool looking. If they had the cartoon monster running around for the whole movie it would be laughed at. Having the monster invisible, with just that brief animated segment to give you a glimpse of what the thing might look like. It was the perfect balance.
    Unfortunately, that movie also has a bad use of effects. And its right in the beginning of the film. They have this thing on the ship that is like a precursor to a Star Trek transporter beam. Apparently when the ship goes from light speed, down to normal cruising speed, in order to not be effected by the massive G forces, you get in this thing and it beams you... well nowhere, you just dematerialize and then rematerialized exactly where you were once the ship slows down. The effect is distracting, its not explained well as to what they are doing or why and it really isn't needed. It has the look of, we are throwing this in cause it looks kool. They could have scrapped the scene and just got into the story. The beginning of the film gets off to a clumsy start because of it.
    Granted those were 1960s effects and not modern CGI, but the same rules apply. The best effect in the world will look like crap if it doesn't serve the story.
  • Froi
    Froi Website User Posts: 966
    As long as the effect looks good, and is relevant to your film, you may as well use it :P