October 31, 2014
Milestones In Visual Effects: What Came Before Star Wars
November 7, 2014




There was once a time when some things simply could not be done. That was before special effects. Advances in this segments demands that we pay a tribute to the milestones that have influenced the direction this industry has taken. After all, most of the movies of today would be nothing without them. Let’s begin with the Star Wars and trace the path that has led to movies in the league of gravity.


Most Significant Moments In Special Effects Between Star Wars


Star Wars: 1977

star wars

All kinds of techniques were refined and motion control cameras were pioneered to lend new degrees of realism.


Close Encounters Of The Third Kind: 1977

close encounters of the third kind

The stunning sequence of the landing of the alien mother ship. Do we need to say more?


Superman: The Movie: 1978

super man the movie

This movie featured some very innovative 3D like effects in the title sequence that was never seen before. Not to mention use of streak photography technique and zoptic camera. All this together, won this movie an Academy Award!


Tron: 1982


It wasn’t the first movie to use the CGI imagery but it was the first to adopt it at such a large scale!


Terminator 2: Judgement Day 1991

terminator 2

Morphing became the buzzword in the industry with creation of the T1000 that could change from the human form to a murderous metal.


Jurassic Park: 1993

jurrasic park

The CGI creatures in this movie marked the beginning of all the great things that was to come in the world of visual effects.


The Matrix: 1999


This is where the world first saw the amazing slow motion bullet scene. It was recreated so many times after, that it became a little corny.


Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within: 2001

final fantasy

This was the first feature film ever to used motion capture and create digital human beings.


The Lord Of The Rings: 2001- 2003


Gollum made history in visual effects. To produce the character, they combined the forces of CGI imagery and motion capture.


Spider Man 2: 2004

spiderman 2

Spider Man made a mark by winning the Oscars for the best special effects beating even Harry Potter And The Prisoners Of Azkaban. Remember that epic struggle between Spider Man and Doctor Otto Octavius by the side of the tower?


Superman Returns: 2006

super man returns

The second in the Superman series used a body double of the character Superman along with a digital cape that was recreated using visual effects.


Beowulf: 2007

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This movie is an adaptation of an epic English poem that came to be only because of the technology of motion capture. This allowed for the live action to be turned to animation.


Spiderman 3: 2007

spiderman 3

The third in the series this movie saw an all new height visual effects with the scene where Sandman is born and all the scenes that showcase his shape shifting abilities.


Watchman: 2009


Motion capture attained all new standards with the creation of the character Dr. Manhattan in this movie based out of a graphic novel by Alan Moore.


Avatar: 2009


In this one movie, the very standards of realistic CG creatures, 3D effects and performance capture technology was raised. We know that it can be done now and we want nothing less anymore.


Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part 1: 2010


The movie lost its place to Inception in the Oscars but many of the scenes blended in with the story seamlessly would not have been possible without the use of highly advanced special effect techniques. The most noted of the many are:

  • The scene where Harry’s friends drink the Polyjuice Potion to make it look there were seven Harry’s leaving Privet Drive at the same time
  • The illusionary vision Ron experiences when trying to destroy the locket-horcrux with the sword of gryffindor
  • The stunning animation witnessed during the narration of The Tale of Three Brothers

The CGI characters of Kreacher, Dobby and Nagini-the python are all also a result of some spectacular special effects.


Inceptions: 2010


This suspense thriller on invading people dreams to implant ideas deserved every one of the four awards that it won. The entire movie is a scene after another of perfect integration but there are a few that stand out. They are:

  • The zero gravity fight scene in the corridor of a hotel room
  • The image of the Ford van falling of the bridge ever so slowly with the actors suspended inside
  • The destruction of the hospital fortress into a ball of fiery

None of these could have even been imagined as anywhere close to possible without the advanced techniques special effects that are available today.


Gravity: 2013


Set in space about the struggle of a woman to get back to earth, this movie is combination of such advanced techniques in special effects that it left everyone stunned!


Here is a salute to all the visual effects advancements that have made these amazing contributions a viewing treat!




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