Social Action Now!

An objective view to worldwide social issues

Special Effects in the Cinema

Steven Spielberg, the famous director stated: “The movie starts on a special effect, ends on a bigger special effect and the middle is  another special effect.” With this phrase it can be noticed that the importance of this kind of technique is nowadays essencial not only for the world of the cinema but also for the technology and culture in general.

The special effects are defined as: “the visual illusions in a film or image, or the art of creating such illusions.” After knowning what the special effects are, it came as a neccesity to explain its history briefly:

  • History of the special effects

It was Georges Méliès, the famous cinema director, who discovered the special effects and applied them in the movie making. In the XX centurygeorges he was filming the traffic of Paris when the scamera suddenly turned off accidentally, and when he was able to fix it he realized that he had discovered how to make trick of a disappearance. It was the 1st special effect of the history, the “Stop Trick”, which was used in “The Vanishing of a Lady” in 1896.


–  Optical effects: these are the most antique ones, were created by  Georges Méliès, but used by a wide range of directors   like: Segundo de Chomón, Willis O´Brien or Ray Harryhausen. It have  been very popular in films like King Kong or Star Wars.

–  Mechanical effects: they are also known as “Animatronics” and include tools like:

  • Mechanical puppets
  • Stagings
  • Pyrotechnic
  • In order to create rain, shots, buildings destructions…
  •  Used in Jurassic Park

–  Sound effects: are defined as every sound obtained with pre-recorder sounds (with or without mixture); because of their simplicity are the most used ones. A great example of it is the case of Jurassic Park with the sound of the T-Rex by mixing sounds of different animals/ and in Star Wars creating the sound of the guns with a hammer hitting electric cables.


– Make-up effects: generally called SPMFX consist on prosthesis or different elements used in the actor to:

• Stand out his characteristics

• Simulate false parts

Are normally made of latex and used in films like Freddy Krueger or in zombie films

Digital effects: are simply defined as computer generated or touched up pictures. Were used in films like:


•     Avatar

•   Hugo

•    The Lord of the Rings


–Steven Spielberg (July 12th,2010) STEVEN SPIELBERG CRITICIZES SPECIAL EFFECTS. TekBlog. Retrieved December 18th, 2013 from

–Harry Joyner (March 23th, 2009) SPX EXPERT´S OPINION. Rooswelt Insights. Retrieved December 16th, 2013 from

–Michael Horn (August 11th, 2012) PROBABLY EVEN IMPOSSIBLE TO FAKE. AcademicAward. Retrieved December 17th, 2013 from


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: