Film Magic: The Art and Science of Special Effects

David Hutchison, Author Prentice Hall $12.95 (168p) ISBN 978-0-13-314774-2
Although he has spent many years ""prowling around special effects production houses'' while writing for Cinemagic and Starlog magazines and has talked to the field's top professionals, Hutchison exposes only the tip of the special-effects iceberg in this book. Neither a how-to guide nor a history, it provides a knowledgeable but cursory coverage of the ``basic principles'' involved in miniatures (Earthquake, model animation (King Kong, matte paintings (The Hunchback of Notre Dame, traveling mattes (Mary Poppins and computer-generated footage (TRON. Although his step-by-step descriptions and lucid language make technical intricacies accessible to the lay reader, Hutchison will frustrate buffs because he often mentions certain effects only with a one-sentence tease that is not followed up. (``Albert Whitlock did quite a lot of floor pacing for a single shot in Mike Nichols' Catch-22, which would have cost about 350,000 to restage.'') A passage on the necessity of simulating hurricanes for films suggests that the author is unaware that the climax of Blast of Silence (1961) was shot during a real hurricane. And there are simple errors, for example, Bette Davis did not appear in A Double Life (1947). To his credit, however, Hutchison offers brief coverage of 80 films in a ``movie guide'' that VCR owners will appreciate. Photos not seen by PW. (August)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1987
Release date: 01/01/1987
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