I don’t know about you, but I am a sucker for visual effects breakdown videos. They’re my internet porn.

It probably all began when I started my Masters studies in Visual Effects, at which point I had to take a History of Special Effects course. I was lucky enough to have a professor who saturated us with these types of video featurettes, from insight into George Melies’ methods all the way until modern technology.

Enter this two part (so far) series by AETuts+ called A Look at Hollywood’s Biggest VFX (Part 1 and Part 2). To be honest, I’ve seen a couple of these featurettes, and the text that goes with them is fairly simplistic in explaining intensive visual effects work, but I’m excited to see more articles like this: easy to read, eye catching, and available to anyone who wishes to read it.

It’s amazing to think back to King Kong and realize that it was released in 2005, which means they were working on the effects in that movie even earlier than that. It’s amazing on two fronts- look at what could already by done in 2004, and yet look at how far we have come even since. Another interesting aspect of these lists is the fact that the reels are not in chronological order. The Avatar effects are in some ways stunning and in others, somewhat limited, especially when you think about how it was released in 2009 and compare it against the likes of the Davy Jones facial movements from Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007). However, work on Avatar began in 2005, (maybe even before that- everything that I have read on it states different facts), and even then, it was such an immense undertaking in comparison to what had been done before. Do you think, if you didn’t know when these movies were actually made and released, you would be able to tell their chronological order by looking at the effects?

The last thing I want to point out about this list is how many of these examples are affected by motion capture in some way, shape or form. The only one that possibly wasn’t touched by motion capture was 2012. Remember what Gollum looked like in the first Lord of the Rings film? Here’s a comparison of Fellowship of the Rings to Return of the King.

See how much more of Andy Serkis we can actually see in the latter? I am loving seeing this technique grow and flourish.

Anyway, I’ll end on this question: what other movies do you think should be included on these lists? What visual effects work has really stood out to you in the past ten years?

Featured image courtesy of AETuts+.

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