Main Special Effects Evolution Discussion

collapse/expand topics
02:51:55 PM Dec 10th 2010
<geek> Evolution doesn't always lead to bigger, faster and more generally awesome species. Sometimes other factors come into play, evolving species that are smaller, slower and less awesome, but are still better adapted to the situation.</geek>

While it rarely happens in film franchises, special effects can evolve towards being easier and/or cheaper to implement, and away from problems specific to that production or company.

For instance, traditional cel animation can be extremely versatile for creating superimposed effects, but can be costly and can stand out badly against realistic settings. So some productions will start out using it, but then devise another way that has lower costs, better visual integration or just shorter production times. Example: Monkey's magic cloud from Monkey. Initially done with cel animation, it was replaced during the first few episodes with a platform covered with fluffy pink material, and made to "appear" and "move" using bluescreen and camera work. Example: The final Vortex game in the second series of BBC 2's The Adventure Game. The Vortex was hand animated in the first episode (time consuming and relatively expensive), done on a Quantel effects machine for the rest of the series (employing various design changes to reduce the amount of machine time they had to book), and then done with a custom program on a BBC Microcomputer from the third series onward (running cost negligible).

There might be other things than cost to get around. How about a show being forced to replace dry ice fog with an inferior superimposed effect because the carbon dioxide makes a guest star sneeze?

Maybe the executives will come a meddling. A media conglomerate might acquire an effects company, and orders will come from the top that all productions are to switch their special effects work to it ASAP, regardless of whether they can do what the current contractors can.

There can also be something of a parallel with Pragmatic Adaptation when a title moves from one format to another. Example: the Goa'uld armour from Stargate was shown deactivating and opening in a very sci-fi manner using a complicated stop-motion type sequence. It happens twice in the whole film. For the TV series Stargate SG-1, where they were going to have to show lots of these, episode after episode, the armour costumes just sprung open and closed.

So the question is, should this sort of thing be lumped in here, or is it really another trope?