Record of Main Points (1.1, 1.3)

Source 1 – (Book)
Digital Storytelling: The Narrative Power of Visual Effects in Film –  Shilo Mcclean 

Key Quotes:

‘special effects were formally used in isolated scenes, now such effects are routinely used throughout the whole picture’

‘Alien films, a genre-crossing series that evolved from 1979- 1997- the period when DVFx came into prominence in filmmaking ‘

‘Feature films were also making tentative use of computer graphics but it was not until TRON (1982) that computer graphics were a main component of a movie’

‘The first all digital computer generated image sequence was created by George Lucas’s Industrial Light and Magic for Star Trek II (1982)’

‘by the mid nineties films vied to achieve greater and greater breakthroughs in digital computer imagery’

‘the volume of work growing and as training programs providing a base level skilled workforce proliferated the resulting drop in production costs make digital solutions attractive to more filmmakers’

‘as these kinds of practices infiltrated the production process, more imaginative and creative approaches also became common’

”Alien3 uses a strong mix of traditional effects and DVFx to achieve its results. The alien is a combination of puppets and actors in suits. Matte paintings, rotoscoping, virtual camera moves, miniatures and models, composites, and motion control are also used. The most notable use of DVFx, is the image of Ripley diving into the liquid fire’

‘From a beginning reliant upon traditional special effects techniques to being powered by digitally assisted techniques’

Main Points Discovered:

  • Special effects were used sparingly and only in ‘isolated scenes’ until the rise of block busters and the success of films like TRON(1982) and Star Wars
  • That the nineties achieved major breakthroughs in digital effects
  • Alien was created when DVFx came into prominence during filmmaking
  • The different approaches in special effects in different films
  • The franchise started off mainly relying on tradition methods and evolved over time


Source 2 – (Book)
Science Fiction Cinema: From Outerspace to Cyberspace –  Geoff King and Tanya Krzywinska

Key Quotes:

‘Through the magic of special effects, science fiction creates new spaces, dimensions and frontiers that redefine the human sphere of operation’

‘From the 1980s to the current Hollywood romance with special effects extravaganzas’

‘Science fiction has recently enjoyed unprecedented success and popularity in cinema. Prompted by the huge box office earnings of Star Wars (1977), contemporary Hollywood invested heavily in the development of special effects technologies used to produce big budget and heavily marketed films’

‘Marked a contrast to the status of science fiction in Hollywood in the 1950s. Science fiction was largely produced in low budget formats’


Main Points Discovered:

  • Science fiction before 1950s had lower budgets
  • Star Wars prompted Hollywood to really invest in special effect technologies
  • Special effects are important in portraying new worlds in outer space for films
  • Star Wars received huge box office earnings
  • From 1980s Hollywood has had a ‘romance’ with ‘special effects extravaganzas’


Source 3 – (Online article)
‘Aliens’ – Brian Eggert

Key Quotes:

“Serving as writer and director for only the third time, Cameron reinforces themes and develops the mythology from Ridley Scott’s 1979 original”

“were given an $18 million budget to complete Aliens, an alarmingly small sum when measured against the epic-looking finished film”

“Cameron’s beginnings as an art director and designer under B-movie legend Roger Corman, however, gave the ambitious filmmaker experience in stretching a small budget”

“as he demonstrated a clear vision and employed clever technical tricks to extend their budget.”

“No end of in-camera effects, mirrors, rear projection, reverse motion photography, and miniatures were designed by Cameron”

” Lightweight alien suits painted with a modicum of mere highlight details were worn by dancers and gymnasts, and then filmed under dark lighting conditions, rendering vastly mobile creatures that appear almost like silhouettes”
Main Points Discovered:

  • The budget given to Cameron was considered small at the time
  • Cameron still had to rely on a lot of traditional methods to create his special effects
  • His experience on previous projects helped him extend his budget
  • They used in camera effects, mirrors, rear projection and miniatures
  • His approach to the alien suit was different to Scott’s in the first film


Source 4 – (Video)
The Making of Aliens – The Power of Real Tech; Visual Effects (10 of 12)

Key Quotes:

“Budget wasn’t huge for that type of film at the time”

“Crashing of ship all shot in model”

“tech was largely inaccessible”

Main Points Discovered:

  • Used some of the miniatures from original Alien
  • Budget was small for a feature like that for the time
  • Budget made some FX technology inaccessible to the crew
  • Used stop motion to create alien queen
  • Ships were shot in model


Source 5 – (Online article)
Alien Covenant: By Land and Air – Mike Seymour

Key Quotes:

“MPC was the largest vendor on the film,  working on around 700 shots – of which 650 made the final edit”

“In the film there are also a lot of full CG shots, about 60 shots in total are fully CG”

“David Bowman was the Dfx Supervisor for MPC and he also oversaw the on-set visual effects for MPC working with Domenech”

” The aim was to retain the characteristics of the ’79 creature, but Ridley Scott wanted to move away from the rigid “puppet” from that original movie.”

“was pushed to be faithful to the designs from for H.R. Giger, while being more waxy in appearance and jointed with limbs that a man in a suit could not do.”

“The original 1979 Alien film was also greatly referenced and studied for the more subtle details from the facial performance, its inner mouth and slow opening and quivering of its lips.”

“Both Alien characters were realised as fully key-framed creatures by the animation team and not motion captured”

“the software team developed a new tool to aid in the layout of the city.”

“Almost every shot we did has at least one FX element” comments Domenech”

” For this sequence, the team developed new FX tools”

Main Points Discovered:

  • The fx teams actually developed new software in order to achieve some of the effects they needed for the film
  • The aliens were key framed animation rather than mo-cap
  • The design and fx teams referenced the original Alien and Giger’s design
  • Scott wanted the alien to have more fluid movement so stayed away from the puppet method
  • Almost every shot contained some sort of CG



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