CGI has emerged as a method for creating special effects in recent years due to its innate predictability and reliability, which is a great advantage when dealing with movie budgets. It should not be viewed as a "cheap" alternative, however, as CGI, if done well, can still be hugely expensive and beyond the scope of many low and no budget filmmakers.
CGI was also seen as less risky, as at the time its popularity rose, filmmakers were still making movies on a regular basis. This means that mistakes or unexpected results can be extremely costly. Therefore, the option of using computer-generated effects that could be added in post-production seemed safer than using practical effects on sets. CGI eventually became a household name, and regardless of the quality, people knew what they were getting.
Although that perception has changed today, many Hollywood directors prefer to use practical effects over CGI. Christopher Nolan is a prime example of this as he has used amazing practical effects on a large scale in his films such as: The dark knight, Inception & more recently Tenet. Horror legend Leigh Whannel, best known for the Saw & Insidious franchise, is another proponent of using practical effects wherever possible, as he once quoted: "I. Love, and I've always loved her, contained science fiction films that use practical effects. I have the feeling that the human eye can tell when something is actually in the frame and when it was later digitally inserted. "- in lay terms, You just can't beat the real thing!
For new filmmakers, practical effects are much easier to incorporate into productions, as high quality CGI work is extremely expensive. For those looking to learn, this is a steep learning curve and a significant amount of time. While practical effects were an expensive necessity in the past, due to developments in manufacturing, the availability of materials, and the relatively low cost of professional film equipment, they can provide far better value today. In practical terms, filmmakers can also make a lot more money when compared to cheap off the shelf CGI. Today's generation of filmmakers is used to CGI being the norm in film and television. So you know how bad CGI can look when overused or not done right (or both!). Also, you may not be aware of the extent to which practical effects can be achieved and how well they hold up to this day (a good example of this can be found in Jurassic Park or the Mandalorian to see how miniatures are still used to great effect). The practical approach has really proven itself over time Effects that are so seamless you won't even realize they're not real! Due to continuous technological advances, CGI quickly becomes out of date and does not always age well.
Everything can be found on the internet these days, and there is a multitude of insightful, educational articles, blogs, and videos online that discuss practical effects. If you're interested in practical effects and want to dive deeper, there are plenty of ways to help any aspiring filmmaker. For example, a YouTube channel whose videos offer an insight into the film production industry and detailed step-by-step instructions for creating and producing specific practical techniques. This is a great example of online content creators who work hard to revive the reputation of practical effects and who inspire others with informative, fun videos.
A catalog of key practical methods can now be easily learned at the push of a button, including techniques such as:
The use of miniatures
A common technique that proved its worth in the original Star Wars trilogy but is so popular and reliable to this day. A key technique for being able to take apparently life-size photos on a smaller scale and with a lower budget:
This is an essential skill for any filmmaker. Know how to properly light a recording to make sure you are setting the right tone and recording whatever you want in the recording. This video is a brilliant, hands-on example that combines using a miniature with lighting a shot by introducing key lighting elements and some industry tricks to help you:
This is another important aspect of Practical Effects, where prosthetic dentists are responsible for bringing the looks of characters in the movie to life. There are many great videos online about the denture industry and how they are used. It's great to hear from industry professionals and to take a look behind the scenes of the film industry.
A great technique for any filmmaker looking to make blockbuster explosions on a small scale and on a budget. It is truly amazing to see the practical effects that can be achieved when done correctly (and safely!).
In summary, it can be said that the art of practical effects in filmmaking is still very much alive. and developments in manufacturing, the availability of materials, and the relatively low cost of professional film equipment have contributed massively to the renewed use of practical effects. The hands-on approach to special effects is back in vogue, no doubt due to the public adornment of practical effects by industry professionals and passionate filmmakers. Aspiring filmmakers should see the practical approach as an opportunity, though; a technique that has stood the test of time and has always proven to be reliable; Now is a better time than ever to produce practical effects.
InCamera was created by brothers Pete & Tom Martin, founders of the band Studios in Bristol, UK, who wanted to branch out and work on their own creative projects. They teamed up with industry friends like Noomi, JP & Ryan to form the InCamera team. The YouTube channel was officially launched in September 2020. InCamera celebrates the artistic, playful and creative character of the practical approach. Combine modern technology with traditional in-camera SFX techniques to entertain, educate and inspire stunning FX tutorial videos.