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Special Effects and Jason and the Argonauts: “Bringing Myth to Life”

But in a discussion of the underlying ethics of Harryhausen’s films Ahl appears to acknowledge that “Wizard” is perhaps the more appropriate appellation: for the Wizard is the true false divinity: no conjurer of primal causes, but simply a manipulator of special effects (and which are no longer so special once their true nature is revealed):

Hellenistic Literature: The Art of Special Effects

Passion here is rendered visible; translated, as it were, into action poetry. In essence, Apollonius has taken Homeric battlefield narrative, with its action verbs, and its extended metaphors, and transferred it to the psychological domain. The effect is both self-consciously archaic and pedantic. Apollonius, for example, is shameless in his display of erudition, digressing with a brief lecture on the particular nature of an insect present in the first place only because Apollonius himself has built his Homeric metaphor around it; at the same time, he displays a literary pedigree that both dazzles and dismays, referring back not only to Homer, but to Plato, Euripides, Sappho and Theocritus. There is no need to apologize, as so many critics do, for Apollonius’ pedantry and old-fashionedness, any more than we need to apologize for Harryhausen’s ludicrously outdated special effects. Apollonius’ is a very studied, and therefore very modern archaicism.

A Brief History of Movie Special Effects - Photo Essays - TIME

Questions 1 - 3 can be asked with respect to an entire movie or an appropriate scene in a movie.

This summer, in films such as World War Z, After Earth and Star Trek Into Darkness, viewers will be again assaulted with all manner of space battles, snarling creatures, armies of zombies, dazzling cityscapes, armadas of spaceships and strange lands stretching to some mythical horizon -- all created with a digital pen in a digital special effects program. If Harryhausen were alive and working in the industry today, he might be making giant robot movies like Guillermo Del Toro's Pacific Rim coming later this summer, or movies involving swarms of goblins and orcs like Peter Jackson's.

Also known as simply effects animation, special effects animation is a specialization of the traditional animation and computer animation processes. Anything that moves in an animated film and is not a character (who is handled by character animators) is considered a special effect, and is left up to the special effects animators to create. Effects animation tasks can include animating cars, trains, rain, snow, fire, magic, shadows, or other non-character entities, objects, and phenomena.

A Brief History of Movie Special Effects

. Director Don Chaffey. Special Effects Ray Harryhausen. Columbia Pictures, 1963.

To create complex shots of airplanes leaving a ship, or a fleet of aircraft carriers moving across the ocean, the producers of the movie used a large tank of water with model boats and planes and filmed the shot. Using special machines to produce waves, the filmmakers were able to create almost realistic shots of boats and airplanes. (Model tank water was especially difficult to film realistically since its behavior changes with scale.) “Films such as Ships with Wings (1942) relied on model ships, planes, and miniature pyrotechnics for their portrayal of war” (Rickitt, 23). This posed a question to audiences; how do we know what is real and what is unreal?

Then, using his patented "Dynamation" technique, those skeletons and serpents could interact on screen with actors in a remarkable realistic way. The Dynamation process combined foreground and background footage by photographing miniatures in front of a rear-projection screen. Sometimes, he shot sequences through a partially-masked glass pane. Live footage would later be superimposed on the masked portion of the frame, and voila, the creature or creatures seemed to exist in the midst of "real" human-scaled action, or even appear to move in front of and behind "live" elements. Harryausen also carefully controlled lighting and color balance to make sure the image quality of his animated sequences matched the quality of the live action. His effects were more convincing than the standard use of optical printing and mattes. This was before green screen, folks.

Special effects animation
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Top 50 movie special effects shots

This article seeks to resist this thralldom to the technological, and its reflexive fascination with (or fear of) popular culture as a purely modern (and purely quantitative, not qualitative) phenomenon, by reading film alongside (and not against) literature, Hollywood alongside the Hellenistic, Jason and the Argonauts alongside the Argonautica. Reading each text in the light of the other, I hope to challenge the (all too often unacknowledged) tyranny of the Platonic system of mimesis – what we might call realism (I term the ramifications of which I attend to later in this article), and in particular by exploring the extent to which both the Hollywood movie and the Hellenistic epic depend on the deployment of what we might call, in both cases, special effects (the function of which, we will see, is above all to animate: to set in motion that which is immobile, to bring to life that which is inert) designed – and this is, perhaps, the crucial point – not to camouflage themselves, but to call attention to themselves as such.

Special Effects Essay - 1243 Words | Bartleby

It has always been for its special effects, the work of “wizard” Ray Harryhausen (the standard epithet associated with Harryhausen’s name), that Jason and the Argonauts is extolled. Harryhausen, who also created the special effects for another work in the canon of “classical cinema,” Clash of the Titans (1981), is revered among cinephiles as one of the pioneers of stop-motion photography or stop-motion animation, the manipulation of animated models or puppet figures to create the illusion of movement. When such figures are integrated with real landscapes and live action, the technique is called dynamation or superdynamation.

Special Effects in 2001: A Space Odyssey - Essay

In discussions of the emotional impact of cinema upon the spectator, there is thus a recurrent discourse on the special effect as hallucination or hypnosis, as that which appears to transport us from one place (where we really are) to another (where we are really not). We may call it the Oz effect; since The Wizard of Oz will recur as a leitmotif and a point of reference throughout the course of this article. In his Screening History (1993), Gore Vidal recalls being captivated by the early sword-and-sandal film Roman Scandals (1933). The film tells the story of a down-and-out Oklahoman named Eddie Cantor who is “transported,” after an injury to the head, to ancient Rome: “much as Dorothy was taken by whirlwind from Kansas to Oz,” as Maria Wyke puts it in Projecting the Past: Ancient Rome, Cinema, and History (1).

Music and Movies Essays: Special Effects in 2001: A Space Odyssey

“…the film surpasses all its predecessors in recreating the fantastic aspects of Greek myth. With his unique superdynamation, Harryhausen brings to life such creatures as the huge, bronze… robotic Talos … [the] skeleton battalion marches on the stunned Greeks, attacking, hacking, and leaping with incredibly lifelike movements” (2001: 113-14, italics mine).

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