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Special Effects on the Screen

Faking the View from Méliès to Motion Capture

518 pages
Amsterdam University Press
Since the very first days of cinema, audiences have marveled at the special effects imagery presented on movie screens. While long relegated to the margins of film studies, special effects have recently become the object of a burgeoning field of scholarship. With the emergence of a digital cinema, and the development of computerized visual effects, film theorists and historians have been reconsidering the traditional accounts of cinematic representation, recognising the important role of special effects. Understood as a constituent part of the cinema, special effects are a major technical but also aesthetic component of filmmaking and an important part of the experience for the audience. In this volume, new directions are charted for the exploration of this indispensable aspect of the cinematic experience. Each of the essays in this collection offers new insight into the theoretical and historical study of special effects. The contributors address the many aspects of special effects, from a variety of perspectives, considering them as a conceptual problem, recounting the history of specific special effects techniques, and analysing notable effects films.
Author Bio
Martin Lefebvre is Professor and Chair of the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema at Concordia University (Montréal, Canada). He is Editor-in-Chief of Recherches sémiotiques/Semiotic Inquiry and has published widely on semiotics and film. He is the author of Truffaut et ses doubles (Vrin, 2013) and has edited several volumes including Techniques et technologies du cinéma (with A. Gaudreault; PUR, 2015); Landscape and Film (Routledge, 2007); and Eisenstein: l’ancien et le nouveau (with D. Chateau & F. Jost; Sorbonne, 2001). Marc Furstenau is Associate Professor and Head of the Film Studies Program in the School for Studies in Art and Culture, Carleton University (Ottawa, Canada). He is the editor of The Film Theory Reader: Debates and Arguments (Routledge, 2010) co-editor of Cinema and Technology: Cultures, Theories, Practices (Palgrave, 2008) and author of the forthcoming book The Aesthetics of Digital Montage (Amsterdam University Press). John Belton is Professor Emeritus of English and Film at Rutgers University, Chair of the Board of Editors of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, and editor of the Film and Culture series at Columbia University Press. He is the author of five books, including Widescreen Cinema and American Cinema/American Culture François Jost is Professor Emeritus at Université Paris 3 — Sorbonne-Nouvelle where he created the Centre d’Études sur l’Image et le Son Médiatique (CEISME). He has written and edited more than 30 volumes on cinema and television and has published some 270 articles and book chapters. He is also the author of a novel, Les Thermes de Stabies, and has written scripts and directed several works of fiction and documents, including La mort du révolutionnaire, hallucinée, which won the Critics’ Prize at the Festival du jeune cinéma of Hyères in 1979. Frank Kessler is a professor of Media History at Utrecht University and currently directs the Research Institute for Cultural Inquiry (ICON). His main research interests lie in the field of early cinema and the history of film theory. He is a co-founder and co-editor of the KINtop yearbook and the KINtop. Studies in Early Cinema series. Sabine Lenk is an archivist and film historian. She was a researcher at the University of Antwerp in the research project “A Million Pictures” before co-writing the EOS research project “B-Magic,” in which she works as postdoc at Antwerp University (research group Visual Poetics) and the Université libre de Bruxelles (CiASp). François Albera is Professor Emeritus at the Université de Lausanne (Swit_x0002_zerland). He is Editor-in-Chief of 1895 revue d’histoire du cinéma. His most recent books include Cinema Beyond Film (co-edited, 2010), Cine-dispositives. Essays in Epistemology across Media (co-edited, 2015); Le cinéma au défi des arts (2019); and Fernand Léger et le cinéma (2021). Donald Crafton has received the Distinguished Career Award from the Society for Cinema and Media Studies and the Jean Mitry prize presented at Pordenone, Italy. He has been recognized by the Jean Vigo Institute (France), the International Animation Festival in Zagreb, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Crafton held the first endowed professorship in film studies at the University of Notre Dame. Benoît Turquety is Associate Professor of cinema history and aesthetics at the Université de Lausanne. He is Director of the SNF research project on Bolex and amateur cinema and of the EPIMETE/Digital Media Epistemology research axis. He is a founding member of the Material Archival Studies Network and a member of the Dispositives research group, of the Network for Experimental Media Archaeology, as well as the Technology and the Humanities project. His recent publications include Inventing Cinema: Machines, Gestures and Media History (Amsterdam University Press), Medium, Format, Configuration: The Displacements of Film (Meson Press), and Des avant-dernières machines. Cinéma, techniques, histoire (co-edited with Selim Krichane, L’Âge d’Homme). Katharina Loew is Associate Professor of German and Cinema Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. She is the author of Special Effects and German Silent Film (Amsterdam University Press, 2021). Her work on silent cinema and film technology has also been published in New German Critique, Film Criticism, Early Popular Visual Culture, and several edited collections Roger Odin is Professor Emeritus of Sciences de la communication at Université de Paris 3 — Sorbonne-Nouvelle, where between 1983 and 2003 he headed the Institut de recherche en cinéma et Audiovisuel (IRCAV). A proponent of semio-pragmatism, he has used this approach to investigate narrative discourse and home movies, and now uses it to investigate the production of moving images with the use of smartphones Philippe Marion is Professor Emeritus at the École de communication of the Université catholique de Louvain (UCL). Co-founder of the Observatoire du récit médiatique (ORM) and of the Groupe interdisciplinaire de recherche sur les cultures et les arts en mouvement (GIRCAM), he serves as Director of the research unit on Media Analysis at UCL and administrator to the Collectiana Foundation. A specialist in the areas of media narratology and visual culture, he has authored several volumes, including Schuiten, filiation(2009) and The End of Cinema? A Medium in Crisis in the Digital Age (2015 [2013], with André Gaudreault). Janet Bergstrom is Research Professor of cinema studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. She is primarily engaged in archivally based research on European film directors who have worked in more than one national cinema, such as Murnau, Renoir, Sternberg, Hitchcock, or Lang. She publishes visual essays along the same lines on DVD/BluRay and is writing a book on the development of Murnau’s mise-en-scène. Suzanne Liandrat-Guigues is Professor Emeritus at the University of Paris 8 — Vincennes-St-Denis. She has co-authored, with Jean-Louis Leutrat, books on Godard, Resnais, Pollet, and on the western and co-edited with him Rivette; Barthélemy Amengual. Du réalisme au cinéma; L’essai et le cinéma. She has also written books on modernity and on the aesthetics of movement. Her most recent works include: Paris 1900 de Nicole Vèdres. Kaléidoscope des jours (L’Harmattan, 2018); Visconti (202 Editions, 2020); and Quatre CM de Jean Cayrol et Claude Durand (forthcoming) Kristen Whissel is Professor of Film & Media at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the author of Picturing American Modernity: Traffic, Technol_x0002_ogy, and the Silent Cinema (2008) and Spectacular Visual Effects: CGI and Contemporary Cinema (2014) and is a co-editor of the volume Editing and Special/Visual Effects (2016). Sean Cubitt is Professor of Screen Studies at the University of Melbourne. His publications include The Cinema Effect, Ecomedia, The Practice of Light, Finite Media, and Anecdotal Evidence. Series editor for Leonardo Books at MIT Press, his current research is on political aesthetics, ecocritique, and practices of truth Dudley Andrew at Yale University is biographer of André Bazin, whose ideas he extends in his book What Cinema Is!, Opening Bazin, and in his editing and translating of themed collections of Bazin’s writings. With two books on 1930s French cinema, Andrew was named Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and gained the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society for Cinema and Media Studies. His current projects include issues in world cinema and in comparative arts.