The casual movie goer won’t recognize Dennis Muren‘s name, but would instantly recognize his special effects work in movies like Star Wars, Jurassic Park, and many other George Lucas and Steven Speilberg movies. He’s been a tremendously creative force in ILM‘s (Industrial Light & Magic) special effects for many years. If this guy has an opinion on the state of Special Effects in Hollywood today, then those with any sense would consider his opinion seriously.
What’s he got to say?
“In some ways, I think special effects aren’t special anymore.”
“This toolkit has been around for 20, 25 years. Unless we come up with something really new, it’s up to the artists to make best use of the tools they’ve got. If you’re going to make a motion picture, don’t just throw computer graphics in to make everything bigger or more. Don’t have an army of 20,000 centaurs or whatever it is, if the story is better with seven centaurs. They’ve lost sight, making things bigger and bigger. Less personal.”
“A lot of directors like combining them [a variety of different FX techniques]. I would say not a lot of younger directors have had experience with that. Probably is that they won’t be as comfortable with it and it’s easier, production wise, to say just shoot a plate and we’ll get it later. Get it and move on. The time it takes to make a robotic character or a Muppet perform right… there’s a lot of value to that. Seems to have been forgotten.”
What do you think about his comments? Have computer special effects become the crutch supporting poor directing and production values? Have the abundance of huge special effects diluted the magic of what we’re seeing?
Think back to those movie’s effects that really made an impact on you, perhaps that first time you saw Jurassic Park’s dinosaurs, or watching Yoda rummage through Luke’s supplies on Dagobah. Muren makes some important points, when does a special effect become special in the eyes of the audience.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments section below.