Friday, October 5, 2007

Realizing the Potential of Visual Effects

Metropolis can be seen as a film that helped filmmakers realize the potential of visual effects in cinema. Although it was not the first film to employ innovative means of visual effects, it was the first major feature length film to rely heavily on these means to create a world that could not be filmed in reality. The Schufftan process, perhaps Metropolis’ greatest visual effects contribution, was employed by many film makers in the following decades, including Hitchcock. Although it has since been largely replaced by matte shots, the method has been used as recently as The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (2003).

As important as Star Wars was in the 70s to the field of special effects, Metropolis broadened people’s horizons as to what could be achieved in film. Stop-motion animation, advanced compositing effects and the use of models became the standard of analog visual effects for roughly fifty years before the advent of CGI and digital means of compositing. All of these were methods employed in Metropolis, the great-granddaddy of films such as the Lord of the Rings trilogy, 300, or any other of the visual effects extravaganzas that we readily consume today.

No comments: