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Old April 3 2012, 01:04 AM   #29
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Re: Heads up! MYTHBUSTERS season premiere tonight at 9 Eastern!

^Still, they proved that people who spent an afternoon or two at a stunt-driving school could in fact pull it off, so that makes it plausible that more experienced professionals could do so as well. It did the job.

And I think that video shows that there is still more to special effects than CGI. That's one tool in the kit, but there's still plenty of room for practical effects, miniatures, optical illusions, and simple misdirection and psychological sleight-of-hand. The fact is, it's hard to make computer-generated images look and behave like real physical objects. It takes a great deal of hard work and skill to force the machine to go against its natural preference to make everything look smooth, clean, and mathematically precise. So unless you have a big-budget movie's worth of time, money, and expertise to devote to it, CGI looks pretty fake. So there's still a very real and important place for other FX techniques.

As I said, this video fell back on some of the simplest, oldest techniques that are all about suggestion -- cut between one guy firing left and another guy firing right, and the viewer's mind puts the pieces together and perceives it as two guys firing at one another, even if in reality the two scenes were shot far apart in space or time. Then insert some shots of the flame and cloud meeting, and that links the other two scenes in the viewer's mind, even if they were shot separately in a studio or something. There were maybe three brief composite shots of the full scene, but otherwise, the only "special effect" involved was editing. And that's interesting.

But that's not the main reason I wish they'd addressed how the illusion was created. I think if you're going to bust something as fake, part of proving that should ideally be demonstrating how the fakery was done, revealing what it is we're really seeing.
Written Worlds -- Christopher L. Bennett's blog and webpage
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