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BBC VFX: The Story of the BBC Visual Effects Department [Hardcover]

Mat Irvine , Mike Tucker
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
Price: 30.00 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

11 Nov 2010

The BBC Visual Effects Department closed its doors in 2003. For almost fifty years it had been responsible for some of television’s most iconic images – from exploding newsreaders on Monty Python’s Flying Circus to Blake’s 7’s majestic Liberator sailing through outer space; from the Queen Vic being engulfed in flames in Eastenders to severed heads dripping blood in The Borgias.

Using interviews with the effects designers themselves, together with hundreds of concept drawings, production photographs and stills from completed programmes, this book tells the story of the VFX Department and celebrates the work of a group of craftsmen who lived by the mantra, ‘If it can be imagined, it can be made…’
Working largely before the age of cgi, the Department was responsible for every kind of visual effect, from physical effects such as rain and explosions, to miniatures and models, to sculpture and animatronics.

Following a preliminary chapter on effects techniques, the book features in-depth accounts of fifty key shows, representing every genre from sci-fi and drama to comedies and documentaries. In each we see how the designers worked, from receiving the original script to creating the finished effects. There are numerous anecdotes about their tricks of the trade. Find out how the Martian’s eyes in Quatermass and the Pit were animated using inflated condoms, and how Mrs Slocombe’s infamous pussy was manipulated by remote control.

Filled with fascinating insights, wonderful stories and numerous photographs and artworks which have never been published, this is an essential book for FX fans and anyone who loves television

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Aurum Press Ltd (11 Nov 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845135563
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845135560
  • Product Dimensions: 29 x 24.4 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 20,846 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


‘This book spills so much daylight upon magic, it risks rubbing it out altogether. Great news for nerds.’

(The Times)

‘Lavishly illustrated. Four stars ****’


About the Author

Mat Irvine left the BBC in 1993 and has been pursuing other projects in the media as writer, producer and director. He worked on Future Fantastic and co-devised both Robot Wars and its spin-off, Techno Games. Along with Mike Tucker he is author of BBC VFX.

Mike Tucker originally set up a completely new department within the BBC when the original Visual Effects closed. He now runs his own company, The Model Unit, at Ealing Studios. Along with Mat Irvine he is author of BBC VFX.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
This large coffee table book is a rich treasure chest of unseen photographs and memories from the near 50 year history of the BBC Visual Effects Department. Although some will be disappointed that the book doesn't cover the work on programmes such as Doctor Who in more detail the volume covers a huge range of productions and the wide scope of services provided by the unit.

Those of us who grew up during the 1970s and 80s will be familiar with the author's work particularly on Doctor Who, Blake's Seven and Red Dwarf. There insight is excellent. It is also fitting that the opening section of the book pays tribute to the likes of Jack Kine, Bernard Wilkie, Michaeljohn Harris and Ian Scoones. I have been fortunate to have met all of these men. They were childhood heros to me and it is fitting that history has this book as a celebration of their work and all the designers and assistants who followed.

Well done Mat and Mike!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First Class 29 Jan 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
An excellent book looking at BBC visual effects,rather unusualy it hardly covers Dr Who or Blakes 7
prefering to give greater cover to the many other shows and dramas they worked on.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BBC effects - better than you thought! 24 Sep 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
It is sad but the BBC got such a bad rep for effects because of shoestring budgets and poor quality. This book redresses the balance and shows the astonishing miniatures and props made for BBC programs over the years. Work includes the well known stuff like DR Who but also showcased is the amazing work for drama, kids tv and comedies.
There are great photos of the sets and models and interesting facts. Sometimes during editing a programme the effects are ruined, as with the infamous Casualty plane crash!
This book shows the hard work, enthusiasm and detail that went into every project.
It is a good book, a little brief on detail in some areas but very enjoyable.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars true sci fi 23 Aug 2011
Well done guys a super book all those old models from past tv fantastic brings back memories super book buy it!!
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