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Visual Effects - You've come a long way baby

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Visual Effects - You've come a long way baby

Postby Charles » Sat Nov 06, 2010 1:57 pm

Growing up in the Chicagoland area, we could count on watching the 1930's sci-fi serial Flash Gordon starring Buster Crabbe every Sunday morning on the venerable WGN TV station. Even though the series was old at the time I was seeing it, it was none the less one of the highlights of my week.

So now with the Internet, catching the ol Flash series is as easy as doing a search on YouTube.

Flash Gordon was a major and direct influence on Star Wars. In its heyday a new episode was screened each week in movie theaters as a continuing series. By today's standards, the visual effects are primitive, but at the time they were cutting edge. The design of the series in my opinion is still impressive and exciting.

Watch this episode of "Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe". It's called "The Purple Death" and features a fight between two spaceships.



Appreciating the past helps us to appreciate the present, so feel free to contribute video of cheesy FX that you feel played a part in the development of the art.
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Re: Visual Effects - You've come a long way baby

Postby Charles » Sat Nov 06, 2010 2:13 pm

Another clip from Flash Gordon. This is from a few years earlier in 1936. Check out all the hi-tech gadgets. One other thing about the series. The producers didn't mind showing some skin.

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Re: Visual Effects - You've come a long way baby

Postby Charles » Sun Nov 07, 2010 12:49 pm

In the 1970s a movie was produced that spoofed Flash Gordon. "Flesh Gordon" was popular for its time and at one point in the film had some pretty good stop motion animation of a Ray Harryhausen type of sex obsessed monster which you can see in this video.

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Re: Visual Effects - You've come a long way baby

Postby Charles » Sun Nov 07, 2010 4:48 pm

I'm surprised how few people are aware of the 1968 sci-fi film "Barbarella". Jane Fonda was in the leading role. It involved her exploits/sexual awakening in the 40th century when sexuality was experienced through drugs and not through physical contact with others.

In this scene, I'd say the most controversial and best remembered in the film, Barbarella is going to be tortured to death in the Excessive Machine, which induces sexual ecstasy so great that one dies from pleasure.

Check out the late 1960s effects and how she handles the ordeal.

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Re: Visual Effects - You've come a long way baby

Postby Charles » Sun Nov 07, 2010 7:31 pm

At one point of the movie, Barbarella seduces an angel and restores his will to fly. The effects were considered top level for the time.

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Re: Visual Effects - You've come a long way baby

Postby Charles » Mon Nov 08, 2010 9:57 am

Here's another film that few people have heard of, yet was very popular in its time and played a role in setting a standard for visual effects.

Released in 1964, "Robinson Crusoe on Mars" is a very good movie. You can watch the entire film through 13 parts on YouTube. It starts at 18 seconds into the video. Here's part 1 and you can follow the movie through the subsequent links if you'd like to see it all.

RCOM was a direct influence on the 1960s TV series Star Trek. You'll also notice that it stars Adam West of "Batman" fame which aired a couple of years later.

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Re: Visual Effects - You've come a long way baby

Postby Charles » Tue Nov 09, 2010 10:54 am

In the same year as Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1964) another effects heavy sci-fi movie was released that made its mark in cinema.

"First Men In the Moon" was inspired by H.G. Wells and involved an expedition to the moon in the late 1800s that mankind did not become aware of until our return in the 1960s. In the movie, the moon is inhabited by insect like creatures who dwell beneath the surface. This was a popular film for its time as well, and can be viewed in its entirety on YouTube starting with part 1.

Here's the trailer for the movie.

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Re: Visual Effects - You've come a long way baby

Postby EAllen » Wed Nov 10, 2010 7:37 pm

Wild, wild stuff Charles.

It's all the more amazing when I realize that, were I tasked with re-producing any one of the shots featured in these films (which were handled practically) I wouldn't know where to start. And I have Max, Maya, XSI and Lightwave all at my disposal.

They did all that without a single assist from an Autodesk or Alias or Newtek product.
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Re: Visual Effects - You've come a long way baby

Postby Charles » Thu Nov 11, 2010 12:24 pm

All the more reason to admire the effects in these films and in others that've gone before. EAllen.

Perhaps the most significant special effects laden film of all, or at least certainly very high on the list of the most influential effects films ever produced, was the 1956 classic "Forbidden Planet".

In this sequence, a team of space explorers from earth are encountering the 'Monster from the Id' which becomes visible through some outstanding effects animation combined with character animation. To this day, it never fails to impress.

Check it out.

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Re: Visual Effects - You've come a long way baby

Postby Charles » Sun Nov 14, 2010 5:58 pm

"Fantastic Voyage" was another film that pushed the FX envelope. The 1966 movie featured an adventure within the human body itself, with a vessel and its crew miniaturized and injected into a subject whose life had to be saved through a medical procedure performed from the inside. It stared Raquel Welch who was hitting her stride as the hottest sex symbol in cinema at the time.

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Re: Visual Effects - You've come a long way baby

Postby Charles » Tue Nov 16, 2010 9:23 am

We can't have a homage to the art of visual effects in cinema without acknowledging this all important film. It was awesome in its day and remains so even in our time. Newly restored and recently broadcast on the cable station TCM in the US, you can the 1927 sci-fi classic "Metropolis" in its entirety through several parts on YouTube.

Here's a trailer that's been produced to commemorate its restoration.

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