Thursday, September 27, 2012

White Chicks

Rachel Holden

In my opinion, the special makeup effects of the comedy White Chicks (2004) were not very believable. The movie tells the story of two FBI agents and brothers, Kevin and Marcus, played by actors Shawn and Marlon Wayans respectively, who go under cover in attempts to protect two famous socialite sisters named Brittany and Tiffany Wilson from being kidnapped. In order to keep their jobs, the two African-American agents have to disguise themselves as the two white sisters.
Special makeup effects were utilized in order to accomplish Kevin and Marcus’ transformation from men to young women; unfortunately, the prosthetic makeup in the movie was simply unconvincing. Special artists combined their knowledge of makeup and hair work use the technique of mold making with synthetic materials, such as latex and silicone, in order to create the fake masks and body suits for the brothers. Suddenly, the two African Americans appeared to have white faces, blonde hair, and a feminine figure.
I deem that the genre of White Chicks is what allows the special makeup effects to lack in believability. Throughout the movie, no one suspects the newly created “white chicks” to be men (even though their voices were significantly deeper). Brittany and Tiffany’s best friends cannot even tell that the two FBI agents are acting as the sisters. I think it was distasteful of the director to decide to make the two transformations so obvious because it negatively affects the logos of the movie.
In the book, Everything’s An Argument, Andrea Lunsford says “you can use emotional appeals to make logical claims stronger or more memorable” (46). This applies to the special make up effects in the movie because the humor of the bad makeup is what helps its credibility, logos. I think a lot of critics did not like White Chicks because it appeared that the artists did not try their best to completely make the men look like women; rather, it seemed that they wanted it to be clear the fake Brittany and Tiffany were actually men.
As Lunsford reinforces, “it is hard to say no when you’re laughing” (48). I agree with this statement with regard to this movie in particular because the two characters are still very funny in the movie. They appear to be white, yet the way they carry themselves and certain things they say are characteristic of an African American male. This provides an ironic tone to the movie, which certain audiences can find humorous.
The special effects makeup in White Chicks would simply not be acceptable in a movie that was intended to be a serious, sci-fi movie. The makeup would not be suitable enough to impress an audience that expects something realistic. Perhaps the transparency of the makeup adds to the humor of the movie, as it is clear the two “white chicks” are actually men. Despite the heavy criticism of the movie, I believe that it was the intention of the director to make the special effects as unbelievable as they were.

Rating: 2

Stuart Little

The movie Stuart Little was released in 1999. It tells the story of a mouse, called Stuart who was adopted by a human family, called the Little’s. They adopted Stuart because they wanted their kid to have a brother. The Little family also had a cat called Snowbell who did not like the new member of the family.
Several people complain when there is an overuse of technology in a movie, arguing that it decreases the beauty of the movie in such a way that the movie becomes unreal, that way losing its credibility. However, in the book Understanding Movies, the author Louis Giannetti makes a good point by saying: “In short, film artists interested in F/X material need to be just as talented as artists in any other style or genre or technology. Is what they do with technology artistically that counts, not the technology per se”. (Giannetti, 35), the reason why I agree with the author is because even though anyone could learn how to use digital effects or a computer by taking lesson, to make a successful movie and make the image good enough  to seem real definitely requires talent. The person needs to have good eyes, have a good perception, a natural common sense or idea of what is good or what people will like to see. The same happens with acting, people can learn how to act and take lesson, however to be successful and recognized the person generally needs an extra personal talent.
            As mentioned in the article A Little Goes a Long Way by Barbara Robertson, Stuart Little was nominated to the Oscars competing against Star Wars and Matrix in 2000. That shows the great work made by the designer Bill Brzeski in the movie. That way, besides being just one more movie with animated features and relationship between a kid and a mouse, Stuart Little also provides good moral values about siblings rivalry, failure and family.

            Since the main character of the movie is a mouse, the use of technology and graphic designs are essential during the movie. Stuart Little’s image is entirely created through computer graphics. The movie was released in 1999, by that time the quality of images was not as advanced as it is nowadays, however the image of Stuart Little and Snowbell (the cat) are very outstanding and can be compared to any animation movie release more recently. Stuart images conveys very emotional scenes and sometimes very exiting action scenes, for example the boat race and chase sequences with Snowbell that are pretty exciting

Works Cited

Giannetti, Louis D. Understanding Movies 12th edition. NJ: Pearson, 2011. Print.
Robertson, Barbara. "Computer Graphics World - A Little Goes a Long Way." Computer Graphics World - A Little Goes a Long Way. William R. Rittwage, 11 Nov. 2002. Web. 28 Sept. 2012.


Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Alexis Dromgoole


Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

             The sequel to the original blockbuster hit, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen once again impresses on the big screen.  The audience is treated to the latest technologies in movie making, and is able to see how director Michael Bay takes these new innovations in film creation, and turns them into movie magic.  From Louis Giannetti’s Understanding Movies: Special Effects we learn that, “…the ability of computer-generated imagery (CGI) to create fantastic, brave new worlds where the magical is commonplace” is where movie technology is leading the film industry (33).  With so many stimulating sound and visual elements, the audience barely has time to focus on just one.  Each scene captivates the minds of the audience with the advanced special effects techniques that Transformers has to offer.  We once again follow the story of Sam Whitwicky (Shia Labeouf) as he heads off to college (for one day), and then finds himself right back in the midst of epic battles between the villainous Decepticons and valiant Autobots.  It is a story that may not be in the history books, but will no doubt go down in movie history for the special effects prowess it demonstrates in this film.

One thing that brought a sense of realism to the film was the use, and creation of sounds in the movie.  As noted in an article regarding the films’ sound qualities by Steve Shurtz, “Filmmakers know that it is the sound, with all the organic and mechanical sound effects that breathes life into the created CGI characters that are as much the stars in this franchise as their human counterparts”(par.1).  These sounds give significance to these robots who for at least a decade have been transforming for kids and adults alike.  Had the sounds not been similar to how the audience thought the robots should have sounded transforming, the film would have lost viewers due to the sheer impracticality of employing any other sound than the mechanically developed noises they used.  This idea is clearly depicted in Anna Lunsford’s Everything’s an Argument when it is stated that, “Most arguments are composed with specific audiences in mind, and their success depends, in part, on how well their strategies…meet the expectations of the readers or viewers” (107).  These robotic sounds in the film were created to enhance the on-screen believability (logos) of the digitally created characters so that the audience can enter into the world of the Transformers.

Keeping with the theme of the movie, in this film Bay decided to heighten and “transform” the level of cinematic advancement by adding High Definition (HD) elements into various scenes throughout the movie.  It is learned from an Avid online article over the film that the HD techniques used, “helped them [Bay and his team] give great attention to the smallest detail, such as the expression in a character’s eyes…” (Avid par. 9-10).  Emotions in the characters, whether they are computer generated robots or not, are a powerful force that is sometimes overlooked in a film where action plays such instrumental role.  Whether you believe in robots or not, “…emotions can add real muscle to arguments…”and make you forget for an hour what is real and what is not (Lunsford 103).  One look into Optimus Prime’s face with his strong jaw structure complemented by his mechanically expressive eyes, and it no longer matters if robots exist or not.  As an audience member and a human being with emotions, (pathos) you want the robotic characters to be real.  The Transformer’s characters have just as much “emotional muscle” as they seemingly have in “physical muscle”, creating the ultimate character with human like emotions and above average strength for the audience to believe in.

It is one thing to create a movie whose advertisements boast robots, and battle scenes involving alien robot worlds that seem to fill the screen with their immensity and reality; it is another thing to portray those qualities on a movie screen.  This second installation of the Transformers trilogy further perfects the special effects technology that was introduced in the first film, and improves upon what we see and hear when we enter the theater.  In the end, the “transformation” is complete. 



                                                            Creating an allusion

           In the movie, Clockstoppers, the idea of 'hypertime' is captured on-screen by special effects. Johnathan Frakes, director of Clockstoppers, was also the director of "Star Trek," which had just premiered when this movie idea was in the early stages of becoming a production. Frakes was enthused by the thought of creating a sense of hypertime in Clockstopper. "The rule of thumb was that we didn't want people to be really stopped dead," explained Fink. "We wanted a little bit of motion in everything, just to keep it alive - which makes everything quite a bit harder to do, but certainly looks more interesting." One way the producers shot this film is through simple camera actions. In order to keep the scene static, even when time is virtually frozen, the camera operator would move the lens is a circular motion to capture the dynamics of the scene. However, the majority of the film's shots used the computer technique of compositing. This is when, for example, 20 frames are turned into 2,000. This speed change technique can be used to speed up or slow down an action. After re-watching certain scenes, everything still seems motionless. Ultimately, the scenes can be a bit quirky and unrealistic, but in the end, the special effects do what they were set out to accomplish.  

            In the case of Clockstoppers, the character, Zac, is the one with the magical watch. In the scene where he first discovers the watches power; everything is seen through his eyes. Throughout the film this is a common theme used by Frakes. I believe this helps the viewer understand the idea behind all the crazy special effects. By keeping this a steady on-going theme, it is easier to discriminate the story line apart from just the idea of hypertime. Although one may think a movie where time is stopped, so is everything shown on screen. A motion control camera is able to portray that everything on the screen is motionless, including the water. If the viewer looks extremely closely at each scene, there are certain moments where one can depict slight movement. This could be due to the presence of mimes. Since there are so many different actions to capture with such a low budget and time frame; mimes were placed throughout scenes. The use of frames came into play here. The compositing technique could slow the actions down to make everyone look motionless. 

               Although this is not a 3-D movie, there are a few 3-D affects used in order to shoot the scenes where the watch freezes time. Some of the special effects seem a little over done and rather fake. The birds which appear in numerous scenes, are awkwardly placed and do not seem like part of the picture. Subsequently, the movie is cheesy. I do believe the special effects and camera angles made for an overall enjoyable film. The plot is meant to be comical and lighthearted. The different techniques such as compositing, 3-D, and camera angles all worked together to create the allusion of a sudden motionless world. This is a difficult concept to wrap ones head around. It is said that This movie sets out to show both the positive and negative side to hyper time. Louis Giannetti, in Understanding Movies, points out that due to technology "Acting is often cold and mechanical, with none of the human subtleties that can be found in scenes where performers are actually interacting" (p.34, 1). The main characters, Zac and Francesca are typical teenagers; at least until they discover the mystery behind the watch. In scenes where the rest of the worl seems to be 'taking a time out' they seem to interact oddly. I feel this is because unnatural effects are occurring.

popcorn ratingpopcorn rating

Spider-Man 3

It’s amazing how far we’ve come in the entertainment department. The special effects of older movies don’t nearly have the “believability” factor that special effects have now. As technology has advanced, so has the quality of our movies. Such effects as improved makeup, sounds, 3-D features, and green screen technology have vastly improved our ability to make the unreal seem plausible. The movie Spider-Man 3 utilizes computer generated images such as the black slime to persuade the audience of the power of the siniste r creation.

The producers of the movie rely on the personification of the black slime to show its power. As Spider-Man pulls at his suit in the bell tower, we see the black suit transform into a blob of slime. The strands of the monstrous, black goop resist the force and reattach to Spider-Man’s body with an alien-like behavior. This demonstrates the vigor of the black monster and the energy it possesses; it’s as though this versatile form has a mind of its own. We don’t have to watch the scene long to be acutely aware of the slime’s ability to fight. Without this computer technology, the scene would consist of Spider-Man ripping apart a black suit, greatly diminishing the intensity of the scene and the credibility of the monster. Louis Giannetti in Understanding Movies remarks that acting can sometimes be cold, mechanical, and unbelievable when interacting with computer generated images (34). However, I feel that Tobey Maguire (Spider-Man) played the role perfectly. He was desperately trying to remove the sludge that was fused into him; something that is very difficult to do, yet he never divulged that in reality there was nothing fighting against him. The quality of the CGI allowed the audience to feel the malicious nature of the slime.

The savage nature of the black slime evokes our emotions of fear without seeming unreal. The sound of the bell ringing causes the sludge jumps off of Spider-Man’s body, taking the shape of an alien-like creature. This otherworldly being has a head with fangs and looks as though it is shrieking in defiance. A scene like this could never have existed without our present technology. In their book Everything’s an Argument, Andrea Lunsford and John Ruszkiewicz remark that images can be an argument to manipulate our senses and persuade us, which is exactly what the producers of this movie try to do (435). Although completely fantasy, we are pulled in and on the edge of our seats watching the ferocity of the black beast. Another example of its personification occurs after the slime leaves Spider-Man’s body. As the sludge trickles down the edge of the tower, fragments of the black goo make claw-like approaches toward Eddie as though it was about to attack causing us to feel dread and anticipation. This predator-like behavior highlights the monstrosity of the slime and its evil nature. Without the use of computer generated images like this, we could never fully comprehend and connect to the strength and ferocity of the black slime.

By the end of the scene, we have full understanding and fear of the strength of the black slime. Although it is a pure fabrication of technology, we can feel the danger it poses. We are manipulated into believing that the black slime is real and vicious. Not only is it an incredible feat to make us believe in the existence of a monstrous slime, but the CGI was so convincing that we couldn’t even tell that is was cyber-created and not actually tangible. Overall, this special effect greatly enhanced the “fantasy” aspect of the film and allowed us to connect with the movie on a more intense level.

Rating: 5


“…should any free soul come across that place, in all the countless centuries yet to be. May all our voices whisper to you from the ageless stones, "Go tell the Spartans, passerby, that here by Spartan law, we lie."—300

Action movies are known for the depth of special effects, and often ridiculed for having no plot other than the awesome stunts and flashy scenes, the movie 300 doesn’t stray from this stereotype on the stunts and flashy scenes end.  Action movie junkies flocked to this movie that for the promise of the amazing special effects that were inundated into the movie and were not left disappointed.
The movie is full of special effects from the very beginning, the colors in the movie have all been changed in order to change our emotions and range from bright clear beautiful days in a wheat field as the men march off to war, to dark stormy hurricane type conditions at night.  The film crew even changed the coloration of the actors themselves in order to cast shadows on their muscles in order to add definition as well as make them look more battle weary.  The film makers utilized computer generation and animation throughout the movie in order to create animals and scenes that would otherwise be impossible, such as a giant wolf in the opening scenes that is killed by a young boy.  They even changed human actors in order to make them look like “manimals”, such as the character Xerxes who was made to look as though he were about seven feet tall, and the monster that the “Immortals” unleash on the Spartans that has been enhanced from how he actually looks.  The movie uses lots of blood and dead bodies in the fighting scenes that are all special effects, and the towering cliffs overhead as well as the massive armies seen from overhead are computer generated as well.
All of the use of special effects comes off as very obvious, and while most average viewers may be put off by this, the target audience of action movie junkies come for this and would be disappointed without it.  The abundant use of the effects does enhance the movie for that reason, while it does not appeal to all, it does not try to.  The target audience wants these added effects in order to add to the action.  This movie comes off as being very professionally done, but from a new approach and direction than any other that I’ve seen.  While it is packed with action that is backed up by special effects, the special effects even is the whole storyline at times, the movie itself is enjoyable to watch and has a good story to add support to the action.
As this movie does not target all audiences with its special effects it does not deserve a five popcorn rating, but it does do an outstanding job of pleasing the audience it targeted, so I will give it three tubs of popcorn.

Beauty and the Beast

Special effects are used so much in movies today that it’s easy to forget how far they’ve come. It may seem strange now, but at one point animation was considered a special effect. The movie Beauty and the Beast is one of the most well-known animated Disney films. It was released in November of 1991and used something called Computer Animation Production System (CAPS). At the time it was some of the most advanced technology being used in movies as far as animation goes. In the case of this movie, the animation is an essential part of the story. Beauty and the Beast is about a prince who has been cursed because of his narcissism. He must learn to love and be loved in return or he will be a beast forever. He meets Bell because she has decided to take her father’s place as his prisoner. As the story unfolds the Beast learns to love Bell, and what it truly means to love another person more than himself. Gaston is the protagonist and has his eye set on Bell. When he finds out about the Beast he leads the whole town to the castle to kill the beast.  This story is aimed at a younger audience and the use of the animation makes this possible. I had never realized it till recently, but this movie would be terrifying if it wasn’t animated. The beast is scary looking and there are a lot of scenes that would scare a small child. There’s a scene where Bell’s father is being attacked by wolves that would be very dramatizing for a small child to witness. Another instance is when Gaston stabs the Beast (Beauty and the Beast, film). Because the characters are animated it’s easier to watch. It’s harder to relate to an animated character because we are not animated characters. As an audience we’re still able to make an emotional connection, but the animation acts as a buffer. Another reason animation is so appropriate for this movie is because a lot of the stunts in this movie wouldn’t have been possible with real people.  The scene at the end when the Beast is turning into a human again has a greater impact than if it was done with humans using the technology back then. This movie was made twenty-one years ago so the levitating and all the colors used during this scene would not have been as easily executed as they would be now. In Understanding Movies by Louis Giannetti, he makes a very valid point about technology: “It’s what they do with the technology artistically that counts, not the technology per se” (35). I think this can really be applied to this movie because looking back, this technology is very old but I think even now it’s more appropriate than Pixar-type animation or real actors.  This story wouldn’t have the same effect or audience if it wasn’t for the animation. No parent is going to take their kids to a movie featuring a massive beast with anger issues. I was reading a review for this movie and the writer made an excellent point about Beauty and the Beast as a whole. The reviewer said “The animation style makes Beauty and the Beast seem like a classic from the glory days of Disney…” (NY Movie Reviews). The writer goes on to state that four years later Toy Story would be released using different technology than used in Beauty and the Beast. To me this reiterated the importance of using CAPS in this movie. The animation is part of what makes Beauty and the Beast such a classic movie. It’s rare now for someone to make an animated movie using this old style of animation. It makes this movie more unique and valuable now.

rating: 5

The Watchmen

Author: Juan Carlos Alonso
Course: Writing as an Argument
Instructor: Ms. Waggoner 
Date: September 27, 2012

Within the past decade, there have been several films that have relied on the technological advancements of computer animation to truly set their films apart from the past. The Watchmen, is a landmark film for this generation as it enabled computer effects to carry the film. That is not to say the acting, or plot is weaker than other films broadcasted on the silver screen, but moreover a testament to the changing interest of audiences around the world. 
Throughout the movie there are countless scenes that illustrate the awe dropping capabilities of computer animation. As spectators enjoy The Watchmen, they become familiarized with Dr. Manhattan (Immortal Blue Man) in different landscapes across the globe performing miraculous feats. Although it is certain to the audience that his actions are entirely based on fiction, the film introduces mind provoking scenes of a scientifically engineered man creating mayhem in south east asia during the Vietnam war, as well as creating intricate glass empires on the planet mars. Thereby, illustrating the incredible technology available to make previously unimaginable scenes appear to be real. However, the cost in making these digitally enhanced films does not come cheap. According the to article read for class labeled Special Effects, “This digital technology, perfected in the 1990’s, revolutionized special effects. Although it’s very expensive, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars for only a few minutes of screen time, eventually CGI will save film producers millions” (p. 1).  As illustrated through the text, the cost of using computer animation can add up quickly, especially given the dependance that The Watchmen has on computer generated scenes. Yet, as filmmakers struggle with the costs of using extensive special effects within their films, they must also realize the potential the film has to attract a larger audience as a growing   number of viewers attend the cinema with hopes of being amazed by a film’s special effects. 
After viewing The Watchmen, it is quite evident the the special effects of the film significantly contributed to the movies success. Given the nature of the film is based on a comic novel, it was necessary for the film makers to strategically use special effects throughout the film to enhance the story line. Furthermore, several of the character in the novel have supernatural powers that required special effects in order for the audience to appropriately comprehend the characters in the film. For instance, had the film makers chosen to not use special effects as effectively in the film, it would be extremely difficult for the audience to follow along with the direction of the movie, especially in regard to the characters and the plot that make up the Watchmen. 



All Dressed Up: How Costume Enhances Acting
                Special effects have been seen as either enhancing or taking away plot, good acting, or dialogue from a movie. In the movie, Thor, the crew works hard to create authentic costumes that incorporate Viking mythology and Marvel-like design in a realistic, modern way. The special effect of costume adds believability without replacing good acting. This is evident in three exemplary characters—King Laufey, Loki, and Thor.
                The costumes of the frost giants needed to be unique and intimidating to create believability. Colm Feore plays the king of the frost giants, Laufey, and participated in several hours of makeup to get his costume looking believable. His costume and makeup was made to look as real as possible without having to do computer effects, which may fabricate the look and degrade the acting for himself and other actors. In Understanding Movies, the author points out the downfall to working in front of a green screen instead of an actual actor: “Acting is often cold and mechanical, with none of the human subtleties that can be found in scenes where performers are actually interacting” (Giannetti 34).  Creating authentic costumes gives the actors the ability to be on set with each other and interact person-to-person. This adds to the believability of the movie. Colm Feore’s eyes were even actually red on set—a detail that livens the realistic acting. The director of the movie, Kenneth Branagh, knows that “audiences are incredibly sophisticated—you can’t fool them or make cheap synthetic versions of things” (Kenneth Branagh, Special Features on Thor). The materials used in costume were authentic and not digitally enhanced. When Colm Feore acted the part on set, he was able to take on the character depicted through costume and even manipulate his voice to match the costume and role he was stepping into. Some might suggest the costume is unexpected and strange, but that is what brings the comic-book character to life.
                Loki also proves that the costumes enhance acting in the movie. The character of Loki is played by Tom Hiddleston. He says the framing of the armor forced him to stand up tall and assume the stance of a true warrior. Even though he would be drenched with sweat because of layers of thick fabric and a helmet, he admits that there is no “wearing jeans and a t-shirt” to diminish the professional set (Tom Hiddleston, Special Features on Thor ).  Once a warrior and then a villain, Loki’s costume changed from no helmet, to helmet and septor. When he overtook the throne, a horned helmet and septor were added to his costume to better convey the evil brother part. If he looked like other warriors, he may be unintimidating, but his distinct costume propels the cunning king in Tom Hiddleston’s acting to come out. Hiddleston plays this part better in costume because the helmet curves around his face in such a way that he has to tilt his chin down and look up through his helmet. This gives a sinister glare that helps him get in the mindset of the mischievous brother. This enhances his acting and creates a believable character.
                Lastly, Thor’s costume is an essential piece in creating a realistic portrayal of the Marvel star. Re-inventing a comic book character calls for compromise and creativity. For example, the cape of Thor in comics would be used as a weapon in fighting and have a mind of its own, but the movie needed to make the cape functional and fit the actor, Chris Hemsworth’s, physique. Also, the cape needed to not overwhelm his stature, nor make him look small. Stomping around set with a red, authentic cape and solid upright armor enhances his acting because it makes him believe, as well as others on set and viewers on the big screen, that he is Marvel’s Thor brought to life in modern day. The red cape is a symbol of the God-like grace of Thor. This adds to Thor’s credibility and when we see him, we see his power and grace. The costume of Thor would not be complete without his hammer. The hammer helps him act with the power of Thor. Throwing around the Hammer gives Chris Hemsworth conviction that he is the authoritative character and his conviction is translated into believable acting. In some movies the props replace acting, but not in this case. The hammer prop in Thor is a tool for great acting and believability.
                Altogether, Thor, is a movie that makes science-fiction believable. It is credible because it draws from stories of Marvel books and Viking mythology, without creating a forged look. The director understood that audiences’ needs to be convinced. Therefore, he created authentic costumes and relied on tangible props instead of computer-created people or material. The evil villain of King Laufey is original and the actor connects with the character by being in the costume. Loki’s sinister glare is created through the dimensions of his helmet, and his intimidation is enhanced through a horned helmet and septor. The actor playing Thor exudes his God-like grace simply by putting on the red cape and holding the mighty hammer. Costumes may have the potential to create rigidity, distraction, or discomfort in an actor to take away from the acting. However, in Thor, we see how actors are able to literally step into character by wearing authentic, pliable, and functional costumes.  However, the costume and makeup is time-consuming and many people may not like the way the costumes were done in Thor, therefore it receives a rating of 3/5.

Iron Man II Let You Experience the Real Movie.

Iron Man 2 is a 2010 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character Iron Man. It is the sequel to 2008's Iron Man, the film is Directed by Jon Favre au and written by Justin Theroux. I enjoy watching the film Iron man 2, the reasons are vary, for instance I am one of the fans of Robert Downey, Jr. and I like superhero but I do not chose Avenger was because there are several superheroes in it and all of them are the focus of the film so it is hard for me to pick up which one to write up. The major reason was that the difference between Iron I and Iron II catch my attention - special effect, that gives the audience a level of spectacle and action they can expected.

Audience can easily find the special effects on Iron man 2. There are two kinds of special effects first of all the computer effects. In Louis Giannetti’s, Understanding Movies, it states, “Acting has also been affected by this technology, though not usually in a positive way” (33) so Iron man 2 use computer to make effects which show audience the technology on film is super advanced, for example the computer animation. In the scene that iron man fly in to sky and the forces of evil control the metal robot catch Iron man, they use computer animation also the weapon they use, the orbit of missile are computer controlled.

Also Iron man 2 use blue screen technology which is the foreground and background shots are shot separately and later superimposed one on the other. Certain areas of the foreground have to be transparent for the background detail to show through. (The revolution of special effects in movies) This technology was used through whole movie, such as the walls in Tony’s house are all touchable computers and when he writes a program on computer he can use 3-D phantom to build a model on his lab.   

The second kind of special effects is humanized effects like use of blood bags, bullet hits and explosions. I believe the suitcase suit in Monaco was perhaps the most challenging sequence because they needed to prove that Tony had designed a suit that was portable and yet could have the weight to protect him from danger. Also they needed to make sure that they did not cross the line in making the suiting up moment too magical, due to the movie is superhero movie not a scientific film.

Another part is that when the Ivan Vanko starts the battle in F1 track that could not realistically set things on fire all over the track, or destroy several sport cars, so they did not actually film in F1 track at all. I learned from the bonus features on The Iron man 2 that they filmed some of the action sequence in a car testing center, which they dressed to look like F1 racetrack.

The Iron man 2 achieved one of the top ticket offices in 2010 and the main reason was because of the amazing special effects. The visual effects team did not care how long it took, but they wanted to get every detail right. I really suggested to watch iron man 2,the special effect are fantastic.

The truth of touchable computer windows

The revolution of special effects in movies

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – Visual Effects

“My name is Benjamin Button and I was born under unusual circumstances. While everyone was aging, I was getting younger… all along.”
Quote from The Curious Case of Benjamin Button movie (2009)
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” is a Francis Scott Fitzgerald’s short story about a life of a boy who, through aging, is actually getting younger. When the main character, Benjamin Button, was born, he looked like he is 80-years-old man. He had heavy winkles on his skin and seemed very old. However, while he was getting older, his appearance was getting younger; the skin was getting smoother and tighter, completely opposite for normal aging process.  
In 2010, Paramount Pictures created a film adaptation of Benjamin Button story which was directed by David Fincher. Fincher requested that the main character has to be played by one actor. As you may notice, the primary challenge was to create realistic images of an actor that shifts age between 0 and 80 years old. For something like that, high-tech computer-generated-images experts were needed. Digital Domain accepted the challenge and created extraordinary visual effects and make up for the main character. Brad Pitt was casted to play Benjamin Button, and Digital Domain was able to create believable and realistic images of very old Brad Pitt using the CGI. According to Giannetti, computer generated images have allowed filmmakers to create fantasy worlds of the utmost realism (35), so creating Brad Pitt that is 40 years older than in real life was possible. However, the Digital Domain made the extraordinary images of Brad Pitt for Benjamin Button character so realistically and successfully that no one has done before. The movie won the three Academy Awards in 2010: for the art direction, for the visual effects and for the makeup.
For the “Benjamin Button” movie, Digital Domain went far beyond high-tech. They created Brad Pitt that is 40 years older than in real life for his character in the movie. Digital Domain made it so realistic that some of the Academy voters thought that they are looking at extraordinary make up, which was not completely true. (Sancton,2). The makeup would not create the realistic effect on the close up images, so the Digital Domain had to find the way to make it look more believable.
Filmmakers, artists, and technologists have been working together to create a realistic and humanized face of an old Brad Pitt. To bring the aging of Pitt’s character, Digital Domain used several techniques and technologies. Surprisingly enough, for the first hour of the movie, real Brad Pitt is not on the screen; there is no actual footage of Pitt at all (Sydell, 4). Instead, Digital Domain casted series of little actors that played different bodies of Benjamin Button. Afterwards, they added aged CGI of Pitt’s head and attached those images to the body of the real actor. In that manner, the audience was convinced that what they are seeing is a normal aging Benjamin Button.
The next challenge for Digital Domain was to create realistic facial expressions of Benjamin Button. According to Kate Greene, to create realistic human head and its expressions, Digital Domain used new technologies from the company called MOVA and its novel motion capture systems (3). Briefly, the company used glow-in-the-dark powder on Pitt’s face that allowed them to capture his facial expressions more accurately. Afterwards, the information about expressions was computer-generated into old looking Benjamin Button image so the character would look emotional and realistic.
At the end, thanks to the Digital Domain special effects crew, Benjamin Button was nominated for the achievement in visual effects category at the Academy Awards and won the Oscar in 2010.  In my opinion, the movie created something extraordinary that no one has done before so realistically and successfully. The process of making Brad Pitt 40 years older than he actually is, was the very best work in computer generated images so far. Furthermore, they created soul for the Benjamin Button.  My rating of special effects for “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” is:

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Dir. David Fincher. Perf. Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett. Paramount, 2009. DVD.
Giannetti, Louis D. Understanding Movies 12th edition. NJ: Pearson, 2011. Print.
Green,Kate. “The Special Effects of Benjamin Button.”Technology Review. MIT. 2 March 2009. Web. 26 Sep 2012.
 Sancton, Julien.  “Are Benjamin Button Special Effects Too Good.” Vanity Fair: The Hollywood Blog. n.p. 6 Jan 2009. Web. 26 Sep 2012.
Sydell, Laura. “Building The Curious Faces of Benjamin Button.” NPR. n.p. 16 Feb 2009. Web. 26 Sep 2012

Forrest Gump

The Academy Award for Best Picture is an award that is sought after by everyone in the film industry.  Over the years it has gained a certain nostalgia that associates its winners in a very unique.  A film that wins this award tends to be one that pays attention to the details and does not cut corners.  Forrest Gump is one of those films.  The film tells the story of the title character in such a way as to draw the audience and create a special bond with Forrest.  A unique characteristic of the film is the way that the author inserts Forrest into monumental events that occurred throughout the twentieth century.  The impressive thing about this is that the production crew does it so seamlessly.
            Forrest Gump appeals to pathos and logos in a way that is unlike most films.  In making the movie, the producers used famous historical footage and digital placed Tom Hanks in the background so as to connect his character to people on a very personal level.  One of the first events in which Forrest is placed is playing football for Paul “Bear” Bryant at the University of Alabama.  The film has footage of the University’s stadium with directions for Forrest when he reaches the end zone spelled out in the crowd.  Additionally, the film features such film tricks as having Forrest shake hands with the President of the United State and helping the first black students to attend the Little Rock Central High School.  To me, placing Forrest in such monumental events teaches you a lot about Forrest and how he is oblivious to what is happening around him and just strives to be a nice guy.  This is a excellent device that does not attempt to stretch the limits of the available technology, a growing trend that has resulted in “soulless movies full of sound and fury signifying nothing: pointless chases, explosions, gratuitous violence, explosions, lots of speed, explosions, and just for good measure, more explosions” (35).  Forrest Gump uses special effects to affirm the authenticity of the film. 
 One of the best ways that the film uses special effects is the way in which Forrest is incorporated into the Vietnam War.  In one particular scene during this part of the film, Forrest’s superior, Lieutenant Dan, is the victim of an enemy explosion and loses his legs.  The film uses the fact that Lieutenant Dan does not have legs to have the audience react to his charter with sympathetic emotions, though his charter would never desire sympathy.  Because his character is presented with such authenticity, the audience connects with Lieutenant Dan on a deeper level and understands his struggle.  If his character was not presented with such a believable appearance in the film, I don’t feel that this device would be nearly as effect.   Forrest Gump is an excellent film that has an incredible attention to detail apparent throughout the film.  The film uses special effects to achieve this attention to detail and thus further assure the audience of the film’s authenticity. 

Iron Man 2

“Iron Man 2” is a superhero movie based on the popular Marvel comic book character. It set a new standard for how films of the superhero genre integrate special effects and computer animation with live action. A critical success (it received a rating of 74% on Rotten Tomatoes, unusually high for a sequel) and a fan favorite (it was met with favorable reviews by comic junkies), Iron Man 2 was the catalyst for more Marvel film adaptations and, thus, The Avengers.

The use of crystal-clear special effects is apparent in the very first main scene of the movie. Tony Stark is driving a Formula 1 car in a race in Monaco when the antagonist of the film, Ivan Vanko, steps out onto the track with a homemade, whip-like lighting weapon. As Stark is about to crash into him, Vanko lashes out with the whip, slicing the car in half and sending Iron Man’s alter ego hurdling through the air. The camera zooms into Stark’s face, showing the fear in the face of a man who is usually annoyingly complacent while the car is cut perfectly in half, with sparks showering down from the white-hot metal. This not only creates a dazzling image but also shows how Ivan Vanko effectively uses pathos to scare both Tony Stark as well as the audience into submission.

One of the more impressive features of the film is the equipment that Stark uses throughout the story. With the sophisticated special effects that director Jon Favreau had at his disposal, the technology seemed not only plausible but logical. The way that the Iron Man suit robotically attaches itself to Stark is so intricately designed that it makes me feel as if I could go find it at The Sharper Image. Said Favreau of the special effects in an interview with ‘Chuck the Movieguy,’ “Five years ago you couldn’t make an Iron Man movie that showed the suit doing everything it could do in the books.” Furthermore, Stark’s butler/Artificial Intelligence computer will surely have tech geeks raving. The screen is a hologram capable of filling his entire workshop, a “galaxy-like” display of icons and applications that can be opened, rearranged, and even tossed in the garbage with a flick of the wrist. This use of logos argues not only that Tony Stark is a genius, innovative, technological mastermind but also that this kind of technology simply can’t be that far away.

                The movie also employed ethos in a very realistic medium as well. In the scene where Stark is taken before the Senate to hand his suit over to the government, the camera switches from the standard view to a news broadcast. The camera view is complete with not only the ever-popular “Live” bar at the top of the screen, but also the actual C-Span logo and the trademark title and subtitle. This makes the hearing more serious and convincing to the audience, while at the same time makes it even funnier that Stark is mocking the entire thing. Other scenes show Stark from the point of view of the heads-up display in his helmet. This gives the viewer a sense of excitement, making them feel as if they’re right there inside the suit with Iron Man, shooting lasers and missiles at the bad guys.

In a genre of its own where special effects are often criticized, Iron Man 2 succeeds where others have failed. It is a breath of remarkably fresh air for superhero films (just watch the corny stunts in the 1997 Batman & Robin). Iron Man 2 is also proof that the movie industry hasn’t fallen into the hands of “moneygrubbing hacks” with no artistic taste that Giannetti is worried about, due to our technology today.

Rating: 4/5