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05/11/2007 - BOOK REVIEW: SPECIAL EFFECTS ? How to Create a Hollywood Film Look on a Home Studio Budget

"BOOK REVIEW: SPECIAL EFFECTS - How to Create a Hollywood Film Look on a Home Studio Budget"
Author: Michael Slone
Book Review by Matthew Terry
Published by: Michael Wiese Productions
ISBN: 9781932907261

My first attempt at special effects was doing stop-motion animation with an 8mm camera that was not equipped for stop-motion animation. The results were, well, terrible. My second attempt was cutting out a cardboard "Star Wars" tie-fighter, attaching a stick to it, poking it through a star filled sky backdrop (black cardboard with holes punched in it) and then to film the tie-fighter straight on with someone yanking and turning the stick in hopes to show "movement." In this case it looked like the tie-fighter was attached to a stick and shaken back and forth.

If you want to create REAL special effects, this book is for you. Mr. Slone does an excellent job of going through the various special effects you might want to attempt. Some as easy as: "Rent a fog machine." And others as complicated as: "Once you have downloaded your image, pull it up on the computer and going frame by frame you..."

Where this book excels, though, is in it's presentation and content. It goes far beyond the "physical effects" and "digital effects" and talks about careers in the field, working with sound effects even starting your own home studio.

The book is also FULL of websites, resources and contact information. The book also includes full page graphics showing, step-by-step, how to do some of the basic effects (gun shot, teleporting, light saber) that would impress your friends and neighbors.

The only complaints I have with the book are these: I would have liked a section on how to make break-away furniture. He notes where to order break-away glass, but a section on furniture - either how to make it, or where to buy it, would have been helpful. And it would have been a huge added bonus to provide a DVD with either actual step-by-step film clips, demo versions of software, or other types of media that could possibly better explain the ideas and concepts laid out in the book.

Still, those are minor complaints. This is an excellent book over all.


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