As many moviegoers may have noticed, the last two decades of cinema have surely followed the curve of technological advances as many of today’s theaters are populated with films that place a heavy reliance on CGI. Special effects, what was once a primarily physical and practical medium is now dominated by the crutch of digital enhancements. It seems, though, that new developments in software and computer imaging has taken some of the magic out of filmmaking. Not only that, but the onset of more widely available and affordable software programs has largely diluted the professional pool.
Granted, without the assistance of digital 3D modeling, movies such as TRON (1982), Jurassic Park (1993), The Matrix (1999), and The Lord of the Rings (2001) would not have been possible. And don’t forget the epic classic 2012 (2009). Well, not so much…
Lately, however, it seems that there has been a [perhaps only minor] resurgence in the application of miniature models as a means of practical special effects. Take for example, Christopher Nolan, the modern master of grandeur. His two most recent blockbusters, The Dark Knight (2008) and Inception (2010), have employed the use of scaled miniatures to capture some of their more impressive action sequences.
Check out some behind-the-scenes info from Inception.
There’s hope for miniature effects on a smaller budgets, as well. Check out this campaign for the Sci-Fi short film C 299,792 km/s that made 200% of its goal on Kickstarter. The filmmakers are boasting the use of scale models, all in-camera effects, and no green screen. They were even featured on Wired’s ‘Underwire‘.
*UPDATE* If the embedded Vimeo link isn’t working, try this: A Small Trip To The Making Of Visual Effects – Miniatures Effects on Vimeo
Let’s keep an eye out in the future for more scale model miniature effects.