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Reza, Ahmar

January 23, 2002



ROP TV Production

Research Paper


*Our No Longer Misunderstood Friend






























Reza 1



I.The history of F/X



Have you ever heard the Word F/X used before? It was probably said by someone working in the film industry or on computers for an animation. But what does the term ďF/XĒ really stand for? As you can tell the word effects are in there so they are obviously special effects. The definition of F/X is quite simple really. F/X are tricks and illusions, electronically used on a camera or computer. This is used in film making to somehow defy reality. I mean, you canít obviously make a man fly to mars or run at the speed of sound without the use of good old f/x. F/x are usually called in when it is impossible to orchestrate such an elaborate scene like those used in the movie ďThe Matrix.Ē But most commonly, F/X are used in order to save money in a low budget production. Itís much cheaper to pay a person to create the scene and animation for you rather than paying a pretty penny to blow up seventeen helicopters spanned out over a few days of shooting. Itís just not cost effective. But, f/x are not only done strictly on computers, film f/x are also used but itís a little different. Camera tricks are used as well to somehow defy reality in your production. One important tool (especially in the use of television shows or series) is



Yes. And we did the entire History in class together. It involved "firsts" like "A trip to the moon" and "The Jazz singer", etc.






Reza 2



II.Genres which deal with F/X


Although F/X is not used in every film, it is still quite common in the entertainment industry. Itís used in filmmaking, television, photography and even in commercials. But F/x is usually focused on movies and television. Four genres that actually harness that power of f/x are action, sci-fi definitely, fantasy, and thriller/horror films.

In action movies, there really isnít much of a deep plot surrounding the character. The movie does not dwell on each and every characterís feelings and emotions, and the lives they live. The story is very bland but when a company mixes this up with f/x and careful coordinated stunts, it can make for a very successful action film. Not to mention a very high grossing action film at that. The main character is usually a very strong Herculean character like Arnold Schwarzenneger who must go through tremendous and miraculous events before they earn their ultimate goal. This person who is usually the main character is the hero of the story. Now the part that f/x comes into this is all of the stunts in the movie, and believe me, there are a lot of them used in action movies. Itís an adrenaline rush just to watch movies like this thanks to the f/x used in the film. The f/x makes it seem as if the character is defying all odds and actually performing acts of unbelievable strength and skill.

In Sci-Fi films, almost the entire production relies on f/x. The person who wrote the script obviously wants you the viewer to be whisked away into a different world, which is believable and realistic. So they use computers to generate computer graphics and animation that really make a person feel as if they are a part of this new world they just entered. Films like Star Trek, Star Wars, and Space balls are all films that are a great example of the use of F/X.

Fantasy films are not quite the same as Sci-Fi films. They not only try to capture the audiences eyes towards their own view but fantasy films also try to capture the audiences emotions as well. These films are a bit deeper but still use f/x to create a fantasy world.

Thrillers and horror films are movies that almost never have any concrete story line at all.         

Senseless killings, nudity, sexual content, and vulgar language are the four most common things you can find in any horror movie. They are known for their gory scenes so when itís become impossible to do things like show a man get his head cut off, itís f/x to the rescue. So once again thanks to the use of f/x, it is possible to defy the impossible with normal stunts.



Reza 3



III. The Importance of f/x to Hollywood a.k.a. Tinsel town



There has always been an ongoing rivalry between which organization has actually chosen the best winners: is it the Academy, which every year meets for the Academy awards to nominate and pick which movie was the best movie of the year based on on-screen talent and artistic talent. And on the other hand, we have the box office. The box office basically determines how well youíre movie is going because in the field of entertainment, if it Itís not selling, itís not going to air. You could write one of the best scripts of all time that even Shakespeare would raise his attention to, but if no one went to see that film, itís considered a piece of junk. So basically, the box office rates movies based on the films gross. The gross is the total amount of money that a film has gathered in ticket sales.

There are a few things I have noticed in Academy vs. the Box Office. Every Movie in the top grossing films list created by the box office had use of f/x of some sort in it. And only one movie in the last ten years of academy awards honor of best picture has had f/x in it. And that movie was Titanic. The reason for this is because any film that has f/x in it can sell easily because it easily gets ticket sales. But Academy award pictures donít rely on f/x because they feel that f/x is only overcompensation for itís lack of a good story line. The only reason that Titanic was given the Academy award was because although it had f/x in itís story line, what with the ice berg scenes and all; the film has a sappy love story in it that conveys the characterís emotions. I have noticed that this is a hard thing to find in a movie that contains f/x.

Top 10 Grossing Movies:

Name                           Amount Grossed $              Relied on F/X

10.The Sixth Sense            293 million                    Yes

9.Independence Day         306 million              Yes

8.Return of the Jedi         309 million              Yes

7.The Lion King                  313 million                       Yes, but cartoon

6.Forrest Gump                     330 million              Yes

5.Jurrassic Park                     357 million              Yes

4.E.T.-Extra Terestrial                  400 million              Yes

3.Star Wars:Episode I                431 million              Yes

2.Star Wars                           461 million              Yes

1.Titanic                                 601 million              Yes

Reza 5




Last 10 Academy Award Winners for Best Picture

            Name               Relied On F/X


2001    Gladiator                    No

2000 American Beauty           No

1999 Shakespeare in Love       No

1998     Titanic                       Yes

1997 The English Patient         No

1996  Braveheart                  No

1995  Forrest  Gump                         No

1994  Schindlerís List           No

1993    Unforgiven                  No

1992 Silence of the Lambs       No

1991  Dances w/ Wolves          No



            One can tell that from the charts, only one film in the last ten years that relied heavily on f/x received the Academy Award for best picture. This is because the Academy does not believe that a movie should rely itself on a lot of visual effects in order to make up for itís lack of a good script. The Academy looks for more artsy films that compel oneís senses and movies that are romantic. Basically they like movies that talk about human emotions.

                All movies with f/x are made for one strict reason: to make a lot of money$. They write the scripts in a matter of no time and think up new ways to use f/x. Each movie is aimed t a certain demographic or market. Teenagers buy the majority of tickets in movie theaters across the country so of course they will aim movies with f/x that will of course appeal to us. A demographic is defined as ďa statistic characterizing human populations.Ē

Another thing one can notice is that the acting in movies with f/x is not usually as good because the audience does not focus mainly on the characters, but what is happening around them. And also the plot is far fetched and not very good. Four movies that recently came out that rely on f/x are: Final Fantasy, Monsterís Inc., The Matrix, and Toy Story 2.  Two movies that recently came out that did not rely heavily on f/x were American Beauty and the Royal Tinnenbaums. Now although these films did use some special effects, they did not rely very heavily on using f/x in order to get their message across.





Reza 6



IV. Application to Real Life


            Many skills of f/x are applied in ROp TV Production. An easy example of this is in the video toaster. The video toaster allows one to use many effects onto a studentís project. I can lay down color bars before every project, put up a slate using the CGís and the chromakey given. The video toaster basically takes uncompressed video in real time and includes live keying, real-time nonlinear or linear editing, character generation, video integration, with a user-friendly interface. The video toaster also lets an amateur movie maker make their projects look professional with itís high-tech tools like transitions and fades. It is a very organized program that has made ROP TV Production somewhat an easier class. Video Toaster is a very popular program with amateur filmmakers, but itís main application I have noticed is in television. Most local television stations use the video toaster for all their needs. It is especially useful in LIVE VIDEO FEEDS where the switcher and toaster operator must work quicker. And the best thing about the Video toaster was the great price. Before video toaster came along, most other large machines would cost anywhere from ten to fifteen thousand dollars to even somewhere around hundreds of thousands of dollars for their machines. Light Wave 3d is a program which we have had some experience with but itís more of a program suitable for the ROP computer animation class. Lightwave 3d is a program that allows one to create 3d animation and add special effects to any project. We used this program when we did our project for an ROP class. Each group had to obtain a logo for their ROP class and they were all created using the program Lightwave 3d. Lightwave is a program that many companies pay professionals to use to work on commercials or ads for them. But most often you will see it in movies that rely on F/X. Movies that use computer animation using light wave 3d are predicted to gross more profits in the end rather than a film that had no special effects. But there isnít a very strong script to those types of movies. A perfect example of the application of this product can be seen on TV. My teacher Mr. Walker recently used Lightwave 3d to create an ad for a local business known as Robinís brothers. Both of these very useful programs are part of the NewTek company and were praised as a cheaper alternative to using very expensive equipment in post production.











Reza 7




Conclusion of Research

I feel that the role of