Lifelike Only More So

Do you remember how you felt the first time you saw Star Wars? The excitement of watching the introductory words scroll up from the bottom of the screen, then instead of going straight up and off the top, recede into the distance. Then along came the massive spaceship, the Imperial Star Cruiser, ominously filling the frame in hot pursuit of the rebel ship, blue lasers firing into the star-filled blackness of spaceā€”a huge battle for freedom taking place a long time form now in a galaxy far, far away. In reality, you saw a couple of models shot against a blue screen in a warehouse, with the lasers scratched in later. Either way, the magic was there. A modern force in special effects had been born.

Star Wars was far from the beginning. Special effects have been around since 1901, but it was not until the huge box-office success of films like Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, both released in 1977, that science fiction was taken seriously as a film genre and the special effects predominant in such films were considered important. Since then, the special effects field has become one of the fastest-growing fields in the entire film industry. There are dozens of companies, or shops, ready to bring a writer's or director's vision to life. And all of them have to be constantly on the lookout for new people, the fresh blood that will bring new perspectives to the field. The shop with the best innovations wins the contract to do the next Spielberg film.

Of course, there are many different kinds of effects, with just as many shops to handle them. Depending on your talents and

interests, you could find a place with any one of them. Some of these include:

Puppetry Creature effects

Computer effects or computer graphic images (CGI)

Makeup effects

Animation effects

Pyrotechnics

Miniatures

Mattes

Each of these facets of the effects field has its own guidelines and required skills. How do you decide which one is best for you? Focus on your abilities and put them where they would be most useful.

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