Pinteau is in awe of special effects, and rightfully so: the ability to use animation, animatronics, makeup, modelmaking and computer trickery is both an art and a science. His book has an artful modesty in discussing the medium; by interspersing his own observations on the history of special effects with interviews with 37 masters of the craft, Pinteau gives a thorough, insightful history that is never overblown and always intelligent. Pinteau, a journalist, screenwriter and special effects designer, covers the dawn of special effects, noting that the art of projection first appeared some 3,000 years ago in the Far East, with the earliest performances of shadow theater; he continues on all the way through to today's marvels, which include the façade of the New York, New York Hotel in Las Vegas, with its recreation of a miniature city skyline. Pinteau's insightful interviews shed light on small-screen grand illusions, too, and the book's amazing photographs depict such fascinating metamorphoses as Marlon Brando's in The Godfather (he wore dental prosthetics to create jowls) and makeup tests for The Exorcist. Among Pinteau's interview subjects are Sylvain Chomet (Les Triplettes de Belleville), Mark Coulier (Harry Potter), Richard Taylor (The Lord of the Rings), Martin Bower (Alien), Roy E. Disney and Jim Henson.