4 Old School Visual Effects That Are Still Being Used Today

by Katelynn Mitchell
Read time: 3 min
Posted 04 March 2021

Today, film industry is rich in digital effects and techniques, but sometimes a movie needs an old-school touch. Here is a list of four traditional filmmaking methods that are still being used in modern cinema.

1. Rotoscoping

Black&White picture man filming with a camera Cottonbro / Pexels.com

Rotoscoping was invented by an American animator Max Fleishcer in 1915 and is still being used by moviemakers till this day. Basically, is a technique of tracing over every single frame of a live-action image to create an animation. Rotoscoping had been used in movies like the original Star Wars trilogy, the amazing Lord of the Rings animated film by Ralph Bakshi and pretty much every Disney cartoon.

2. Vertigo Effect

Wooden Bridge in a Field Scenery Susn Matthiessen / Unsplash.com

Vertigo Effect or how its often called "The Dolly Zoom" is an effect that changes normal visual perception. It is achieved by moving the camera towards or away from the object, while simultaneously adjusting the angle of view(a.k.a. field of view or FOV). 

Vertigo Effect appears for the viewer as either the background becomes immense and overwhelms the foreground, or the foreground grows in size and draws all attention on itself.

The technique was first used in Alfred Hitchcock's movie Vertigo(1958). Since then it has been used in many other films, such as Jaws(1975) and Pulp Fiction(1994).

3. Forced Perspective

Woman Smoking a Cigarette in front of a Building Perspective Ilie Micut-Istrate / Unsplash.com

This technique, which employs optical illusion, is achieved by using clever camera placement. It makes an object or a character appear larger, closer, further away, or smaller than it actually is. The best example of forced perspective in modern film industry is the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Remember all those scenes where Elijah Wood seemed tiny next to Ian McKellen's Gandalf? Well, that was just a clever camera placement and some prop construction.

4. Matte Paintings

Grass Green Field During Sunset Robert Lukeman / Unsplash.com

Sometimes movies require a landscape fitting for certain scenes. But what if such scenery is impossible to film or it simply doesn't exist? For example any Space movies or Fantasy films. That is where Matte Paintings come in play. Basically, it is a technique where you paint a landscape or set to create an illusion of a location that doesnt exist at the filming location.

Preview picture by @jakobowens1 / Unsplash.com

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