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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Essential background, but expensive
Large and luxuriant, this volume is built for comfort rather than for speed. Intended for the coffee table, it cover the entire history of special effects with generous portions devoted to the recent contributions of digital effects artists. You won't find detailed tutorials for Maya, but you''ll be able to read all the basic theory behind camera work, optical effects,...
Published on 25 Dec 2001 by Marque Pierre Sondergaard

versus
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars dissapointed
hi,i received this book on friday and it is nothing that i expected.i am a make up artist and i bought it for make up special effects and not for learning the history of animation.i would like to return this book if it is possible.
Published 20 months ago by kristy


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Essential background, but expensive, 25 Dec 2001
By 
Marque Pierre Sondergaard (London, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Large and luxuriant, this volume is built for comfort rather than for speed. Intended for the coffee table, it cover the entire history of special effects with generous portions devoted to the recent contributions of digital effects artists. You won't find detailed tutorials for Maya, but you''ll be able to read all the basic theory behind camera work, optical effects, model making, make-up, matte painting, animation and audio effects.
Nearly all the right companies have been contacted, from Cinesite to ILM and on to Sony Pictures Imageworks. On top of the plain-talking and superb examples of digital creativity cited, the book is illustrated with great photos and diagrams. The only slight drawback is the price tag, but quality doesn't always come cheap.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Book On FX I've Read To Date !, 22 April 2001
Having been waiting for this book for a while I was delighted when it was finally published.
I personally love the FX industry and have worked in it for over 10 years so I'm not fooled by over basis and sometimes wrong information.
I've been slowly collecting relevant books since I started and "Special Effects: The History and Technique" is by far the best book I've seen for covering such a wide area and discipline.
It's packed with colour photos and 3D illustrations showing clear images of various examples and is geared at both the novice and advanced levels
10 / 10 !
A great book and well worth the money.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The greatest special effects book ever!, 26 Feb 2001
By A Customer
WOW! If you have even the smallest interest in special effects, filmmaking, or even general film history, you must own a copy of this brilliant new book - it's amazing!
Though at first I figured 'Special Effects: The History and Technique' seemed expensive, I thought I'd give it a try since so few books on this subject are ever published. Also, because I am a film studies lecturer, I need to keep up to date with books that are published on the subject. It turned out to be the BEST BUY I have made in a long time.
The book starts with an 'overview if the first 100 years of special effects' and perfectly summarises the first century of the commercial cinema. The author writes about the film pioneers, the formation of the studio system, the coming of sound, the challenge of TV, the changes in society and audiences - all the influences that affected the type of films that were made in each decade. He then gives a summary of the most important effects films of each decade and even includes profiles of important effects directors from Alfred Hitchcock to James Cameron.
Chapter Two teaches you everything you need to know about the basics of cinema technology - like how film and emulsions work, how cameras, lenses and projectors work, the physics of light and color etc. The author then explains the basics of traditional optical work and, with the help of fantastic graphic illustrations (there are hundreds of these thru the book), shows how an optical printer works and details the various bluescreen travelling matte systems and their variations like the Dunning Pomeroy Process and Sodium Vapor travelling mattes. There is a stack of examples and images from many films as well as interviews with people who worked on movies such as Terminator and Superman. The chapter then moves on to the history and science of digital technology - explaining how images are created and manipulated digitally with reference to many modern special effects companies and films.
Chapter 3 looks at models and miniatures. The Chapter explains how traditional models are built and filmed and gives formulas for things like camera speed, model size and scale. Examples from the earliest days until the current time are used. The chapter also explains how different types of miniatures are made and filmed - there's a section on boats and water, one on aircraft and flying and (best of all) one on miniature pyrotechnics. The chapter then explains how models are built in the computer and shows different CG modelling and painting techniques and interviews many masters of the process.
The animation chapter is the best of all. Every form and technique is covered in minute detail - from early cartoons, stop motion, go-motion as well as modern computer assisted cartoons and full 3D animation. There are profiles of films like King Kong and Jurassic Park and interviews with masters like Ray Harryhausen and Phil Tippet.
Chapter 5 covers matte painting from the earliest glass paintings to the latest amazing 3D computer generated environments in films like The Phantom Menace and Titanic.
The next section looks at special effects makeup - showing how to create anything from a scar to a huge animatronic dinosaur. All processes are covered in minute detail with explanations from experts such as Stan Winston and Jim Henson's Creature Shop. The chapter ends with a look at digital makeup in films like The Mummy. Chapter 9 looks at physical effects and talks about how to create wind, snow, rain - even fake glass. It also has a fantastic section on guns and explosions which tells you just how it is all done in films such as James Bond and Indiana Jones.
The next chapter was a great surprise - sound effects! I can't think of another fx book that covers this subject - even though the sound of a dinosaur is, of course, as important as what it looks like. The whole process of film sound is explained from recording, mixing and dubbing to sound design with profiles of experts such as Ben Burtt.
The final chapter looks at the future of cinema and special effects and considers formats such as 3D (full coverage of history and technique, IMAX, digital filmmaking and virtual reality.
Finally chapter 10 looks in detail at the effects and techniques of the top 50 effects films of all time- some people might not agree that these are the top 50 films, but those chosen are definitely some of the most important ones. The author details exactly how each film was made and who did what.
There is a good bibiography and a really useful glossary with every complicated film and special effects term explained with amazing clarity.
I cannot fault this book - it is probably as good as a few years at film school or a hundred nights at the movies. Anybody even slightly interested in movies and movie making should have a copy on their shelf - I will definitely recommend it to all my students as one of the few books that is worth buying rather than simply borrowing from a library. I've read my copy from cover to cover twice and will refer to it for years to come.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars MAGIC CAPTURED, 3 Nov 2006
By 
Robert J. Hoffman (Los Angeles, CA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Special Effects: The History and Technique (Hardcover)
Recently, while searching for an appropriate textbook to assign my students for the course I'm teaching at UCLA on the history of Visual Effects, I was faced with the decided challenge of identifying one book that would capture the magic of visual effects in a comprehensive fashion.

Richard Rickett's book does that and much more. The book brilliantly covers the entire scope of visual and special effects techniques throughout film history and up to the recent past while documenting the historical milestones and technical accomplishments that are so central to many of the most magical moments in film history.

At the same time, it provides a face to the effects industry - paying homage to the giants of years past as well as an introducing many of today's greatest artists.

The book is a wonderful addition to the library of anyone who believes themselves to be serious about film production or film history.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best on the Subject, 3 Nov 2006
By 
This review is from: Special Effects: The History and Technique (Hardcover)
I recently got my copy of `Special Effects: The History and Technique' after waiting quite a while for a new edition to be published.

This is a really fantastic book which anyone interested in effects ought to own and enjoy. As someone who works as a `techie' in the industry, as well as someone who enjoys the history of special effects, this book really satisfies all my areas of interest.

Richard Rickitt has managed to do an excellent job of balancing the science of special effects with the art and the craft. He has covered every conceivable variety of special effects from the first crude methods to the latest computer generated marvels and as well as describing the technique, he has often revealed the aims and aspirations of those pioneering individuals that worked on them - so it's not all just about the technology.

There are literaly hundreds of fantastic photos, many of which i have never seen before. There are also excellent technical diagrams - not the science text-book type illustrations that other books on the subject have, but nicely designed, colourful images with some nice design flourishes.

I'd also like to comment on the writing. I am sometimes asked to write about special effects and can tell you that trying to explain a technique so that it will satisfy the experts but also be understandable to the uninitiated is no mean feat. I can spend hours on a single sentance! The author of this book must have spent a long time working out how to explain some of the more complicated techniques - which he manages to do in a concise, accurate, yet easy to read manner.

The only thing I might disagree with is the author's selection of the 50 most important effects films - but he does say it is a very personal choice, so who am I to argue?

This book is really worth the money - especially since it has an interesting foreword from the master, Ray Harryhausen.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Effects Book, 9 Dec 2002
Special Effects is THE BEST book you could wish for on the subject. I have a shelf full of old, an mostly inaccurate books about special effects, but with this new book I could throw the rest away. Also, don't bother with magazines like Cinefex anymore, which are very dry and heavy going. this book is a pleasure to read and has interviews with everyone who is important in the business. There are hundreds of cool photos as well which makes it very good value. Anyone who works in special effects, or is just interested in the movies should read this book. Congratulations to the author Mr Rickitt who has condensed 100 years of movie magic into a single lavish book. Dont take my word for it - BUY IT!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unsurpassable, 16 May 2012
By 
fallingforstars (West Yorkshire, UK) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Special Effects: The History and Technique (Hardcover)
The finest book I have come across in this field. Thorough and comprehensive in its coverage with plenty of technical detail as well as being lavishly illustrated. Covering the full spectrum of the broad category of movie special effects it is a huge undertaking that pays off admirably. A very absorbing read. My highest recommendation.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Huge history review, 27 Dec 2010
This review is from: Special Effects: The History and Technique (Hardcover)
I purchased this for my son as a xmas present. I read Foreword written by Ray Harryhausen and that was it. If Harryhausen says it's good then it must be good. So I knew that the book could not be a disappointment but it was even better I was expecting. My son has perused the book several days now and it really is a nice add to his cinematography library.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Special Effects - The History and technique -EXCELLENT BOOK !!, 11 Nov 2007
This review is from: Special Effects: The History and Technique (Hardcover)
This absolutely perfect book, I'm going to study VFX, and I have to study some of the technique before and this is exactly what i need. History of effects since 19-20 century until present, a lot of photos for example( Lord of the Ring, King Kong, Matrix, Underworld, Troy...many others,
capitols:
1. History of special effects
2. Optical effects
3. Models
4. Animation
5. Matte Paintings
6. Make Up
7. Physical effects
8. Sound
9. Conclusion
academy awards, bibliography .....

i really recommend this book to everyone who is interested in visual effects or film industry.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The greatest special effects book ever, 26 Feb 2001
By A Customer
WOW! If you have even the smallest interest in special effects, filmmaking, or even general film history, you must own a copy of this brilliant new book - it's amazing!
Though at first I figured 'Special Effects: The History and Technique' seemed expensive, I thought I'd give it a try since so few books on this subject are ever published. Also, because I am a film studies lecturer, I need to keep up to date with books that are published on the subject. It turned out to be the BEST BUY I have made in a long time.
The book starts with an 'overview if the first 100 years of special effects' and perfectly summarises the first century of the commercial cinema. The author writes about the film pioneers, the formation of the studio system, the coming of sound, the challenge of TV, the changes in society and audiences - all the influences that affected the type of films that were made in each decade. He then gives a summary of the most important effects films of each decade and even includes profiles of important effects directors from Alfred Hitchcock to James Cameron.
Chapter Two teaches you everything you need to know about the basics of cinema technology - like how film and emulsions work, how cameras, lenses and projectors work, the physics of light and color etc. The author then explains the basics of traditional optical work and, with the help of fantastic graphic illustrations (there are hundreds of these thru the book), shows how an optical printer works and details the various bluescreen travelling matte systems and their variations like the Dunning Pomeroy Process and Sodium Vapor travelling mattes. There is a stack of examples and images from many films as well as interviews with people who worked on movies such as Terminator and Superman. The chapter then moves on to the history and science of digital technology - explaining how images are created and manipulated digitally with reference to many modern special effects companies and films.
Chapter 3 looks at models and miniatures. The Chapter explains how traditional models are built and filmed and gives formulas for things like camera speed, model size and scale. Examples from the earliest days until the current time are used. The chapter also explains how different types of miniatures are made and filmed - there's a section on boats and water, one on aircraft and flying and (best of all) one on miniature pyrotechnics. The chapter then explains how models are built in the computer and shows different CG modelling and painting techniques and interviews many masters of the process.
The animation chapter is the best of all. Every form and technique is covered in minute detail - from early cartoons, stop motion, go-motion as well as modern computer assisted cartoons and full 3D animation. There are profiles of films like King Kong and Jurassic Park and interviews with masters like Ray Harryhausen and Phil Tippet.
Chapter 5 covers matte painting from the earliest glass paintings to the latest amazing 3D computer generated environments in films like The Phantom Menace and Titanic.
The next section looks at special effects makeup - showing how to create anything from a scar to a huge animatronic dinosaur. All processes are covered in minute detail with explanations from experts such as Stan Winston and Jim Henson's Creature Shop. The chapter ends with a look at digital makeup in films like The Mummy. Chapter 9 looks at physical effects and talks about how to create wind, snow, rain - even fake glass. It also has a fantastic section on guns and explosions which tells you just how it is all done in films such as James Bond and Indiana Jones.
The next chapter was a great surprise - sound effects! I can't think of another fx book that covers this subject - even though the sound of a dinosaur is, of course, as important as what it looks like. The whole process of film sound is explained from recording, mixing and dubbing to sound design with profiles of experts such as Ben Burtt.
The final chapter looks at the future of cinema and special effects and considers formats such as 3D (full coverage of history and technique, IMAX, digital filmmaking and virtual reality.
Finally chapter 10 looks in detail at the effects and techniques of the top 50 effects films of all time- some people might not agree that these are the top 50 films, but those chosen are definitely some of the most important ones. The author details exactly how each film was made and who did what.
There is a good bibiography and a really useful glossary with every complicated film and special effects term explained with amazing clarity.
I cannot fault this book - it is probably as good as a few years at film school or a hundred nights at the movies. Anybody even slightly interested in movies and movie making should have a copy on their shelf - I will definitely recommend it to all my students as one of the few books that is worth buying rather than simply borrowing from a library. I've read my copy from cover to cover twice and will refer to it for years to come.
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