Practical Effects

Today, Most of the Hollywood and Bollywood Movies are using Visual Effects and Motion Graphics to tell a story which cannot be possible without such technique’s. But still, Film Makers prefer using Practical Effects over or along with Visual Effects and Motion Graphics as it saves time and efforts, though it can be pricey sometimes, but little additional money, that can save the precious time doesn’t matter. After all, Time is Money.

Practical Effects are those which are performed on site in real. In other words, practical effect is a special effect produced physically, without computer-generated imagery or other post production techniques, such as Real Explosions or Real Rain (using sprinklers and water tanks), Animatronics such as the mechanical full size T-Rex and Raptor puppet which was employed in the Jurassic Park.

Practical Effects Jurassic Park
Animatronic T-Rex used in Jurassic Park

Techniques used in Practical Effects

  • The use of Prosthetic makeupanimatronicspuppetry or suitmation to create the appearance of living creatures.
  • Miniature effects, which is the use of scale models which are photographed in a way that they appear full sized.
  • Mechanical Effects, such as Aerial rigging to simulate flight, stage mounted gimbals to make the ground move, or other mechanical devices to physically manipulate the environment.
  • Pyrotechnics for the appearance of fire and explosions.
  • Weather effects such as sprinkler systems to create rain and fog machines to create smoke.
  • Squibs to create the illusion of gunshot wounds.

Stan Winston School of Character Arts created the Full-Size Animatronic T-Rex for Jurassic park whose movement was operated by a miniature version of the same by the hands.

Among all the Raptors shown in the film, some were cgi, but the scenes where the Raptor was needed to interact with the actors, Engineers designed and created a suit or a puppet. The puppet can be used by a person and he/she was easily able to control the various movements of the Raptor.

The monster was built so precisely with all the details and everything so realistic, that it eliminated the need for Computer Graphics or Visual Effects.

Practical Effects not only saves time, but they are more accurate than Visual Effects as they react much efficiently to the environment and surroundings.

Sometimes, Practical Effects are used along with Visual Effects and one neat example is the movie ‘Life of Pie’ where a real tiger was used along with a CGI one. Yet it is difficult to spot where the actual tiger was used and where the computer generated one was.

Practical Effects
It is difficult to determine which is the real and cgi tiger.

Whenever a gun is shot, we see a spark or a flash commonly known as a Muzzle Flash on the tip of the barrel of the gun.

Earlier in movies, it was done using Visual Effects, but these days, Practical Effects such as using a blank bullet is considered since it just generates a sound and a Muzzle Flash but no actual bullet is discharged from the gun.

A Muzzle Flash from a Pistol.
A Muzzle Flash from a Pistol.

While most Vfx Expert bloggers will write something like ‘Practical Effects Versus Visual Effects‘ or ‘Practical Effects over Visual Effects‘ and vice-versa, I titled this article as ‘Practical Effects along with Visual Effects and Motion Graphics‘.

The Technology behind Motion Graphics/Visual Effects as well as Practical Effects have evolved so much over a decade that now both are dependant on each other. Without Practical Effects, it is tough to run entirely on Visual Effects and without Visual Effects, we can’t even think of producing all these extraordinary and mind blowing scenes practically. Come on!, you cannot go into space and shoot Star Wars.


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