From animatronics to 3D sound to mirrors to miniature sets, there are countless film making techniques that go into creating a modern box office hit. We have come a long way from Alfred Hitchcock’s classic silent visual storytelling methods, so here are some contemporary filmmaking techniques that any film enthusiast should know about:
Good old chocolate syrup just won’t cut it anymore. To create realistic blood spurting and spraying effects these days takes careful planning and placement. While movie goers know that the blood they see on screen is obviously not real, they don’t often know how the effect is created. Blood is one of the basic practical effects that any number film making courses will reveal the secret behind.
The effect is created using Technicolor Blood. Imagine a scene where someone is holding a knife to skin and slicing it ‘open.’
Blood starts to seep out and it looks quite believable. This is done by securing a tube full of Technicolor Blood to the unseen side of the knife. The blood is then squeezed out when it is needed. Similarly, squibs are used to simulate an actor getting shot. They are small, electronically triggered explosives that are strapped to the body and activated after the ‘shot.’
The Orphan Black Effect
If you’ve seen the multiple award winning TV series, Orphan Black, you know that a single actress plays seven different characters, who sometimes interact with each other in a single frame. Tatiana Maslany speaks and even touches her clones in the show, creating realistic and completely believable interactions.
The process begins with Maslany and a double filming their dialogues and scenes with the camera moving to follow them. Once the camera has memorized the motion, Maslany’s double leaves and Maslany switches characters to play both parts by herself, repeating the same motions in each case. Finally, the scene is shot again without any actors, so that the editors can stitch together all the motions realistically, which allows the characters to actually look like they’re reacting to each other. Time consuming, but very effective!
Cost effective, realistic, easy to experiment with and improve upon, the use of miniature sets in movies is a technique that is here to stay. Rather than create an entire CGI scene of a city, castle or street, miniature sets such as the Hogwarts castle in Harry Potter and the city of Gondor in Lord of the Rings allow film makers much more creativity and freedom during production.
Scale models are built as desired and scenes are then shot in high speed to represent gravity accurately. The motion is then slowed down in post production and actors are added in. Another common method is to suspend the miniature in the background, while the actors act in the foreground. This way, the lighting and shadows match, while mirrors, camera and actors are positioned to create forced perspective, which matches size and proportions.
No, we don’t mean Kermit the Frog kind of puppet. Think dinosaurs from Jurassic Park, E.T. the adorable alien and Hellboy II’s Angel of Death. Using a combination of animatronics, rods and cables, a number of of sculpted creatures can be animated live, creating delightfully believable characters that audiences around the world fall in love with.
In the case of Hellboy II’s Angel of Death, Guillermo del Toro, a monster maker himself, created a 2D illustration of the Angel of Death and approached Spectral Motion studio to bring the eerie character to life. The result was a large than life, mechanically controlled costume with functional wings that was operated by an actor.
Hollywood studios and film makers are constantly coming up with new and unusual ways to creating fantastic effects for our viewing pleasure. Get in on the action with Seamedu School of Pro-Expressionism, an institute that offers one of the finest film making courses in India, and you could be responsible for the next fantastical sci-fi alien!