Special Effects


MOVIE BOOK REVIEW by Willard Manus

Anyone who has ever wondered how the amazing trick sequences in such films as Frankenstein, Hellboy, Evolution, Jurassic Park and Lord of the Rings were achieved should scurry out and pick up a copy of SPECIAL EFFECTS, THE HISTORY AND TECHNIQUE by Richard Rickitt (Billboard Books).

Rickitt, a co-founder of Clockwork Digital, a company that creates animation and visual effects for film and television, has written a 384-page book that is the definitive work in the field, a bible really. Packed with four-color illustrations and written in a clear, precise way, SPECIAL EFFECTS not only contains profiles of such masters as George Lucas, James Cameron and Dennis Muren (Close Encounters, E.T.), but describes in detail how these craftsmen planned and executed the magical scenes in their famous films.

It's all here, all the wizardry, technology, mathematical and computer formulas that go into movie special effects. It's not just educational but edifying to learn how Tom Hanks managed to play all three characters in The Polar Express, how Gollum's skin in Lord of the Rings was created by Weta Digital, how John Chambers designed the memorable makeup in Planet of the Apes, and so on.

As Ray Harryhausen notes in his forewored, "Rickitt's splendid volume is a fitting tribute to the numerous great special effects pioneers of past years whose imaginative innovations continue to inspire new generations of artists and technicians."