Movie Magic the Story of Special Effects Paperback – 1976
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The book focuses on a lot of movies which were in their day ground breaking, and are still vital in the history of visual effects today - Willis O'Brien's 'King Kong' being the most notable example.
There are many interviews and anecdotes from the Hollywood studios of the 30s, 40s and 50s, through to the legendary '2001: A Space Odyssey' and into the early 70's. Significant time is dedicated to stop-motion animation - which for many, many years was the only reasonable way to create decent creature effects.
Overall, the book is a little light on technical details. Techniques are described in concept and many of the processes and issues discussed are not relevant today. e.g. - The pros and cons of back-projection vs front projection which are barely used today.
Throughout though, there is a genuine love and respect for the craftsmanship, as well as the importance of the context for the work - the awe and wonder the images conjure up.
This is a book that I read at an early age and it got me really interested in how special effects were done, and while it did not provide all the answers, it certainly got the creative juices going.
Above all though, it's a great time capsule in that it does not look back fondly in light of what we know today, it literally was written before the rule book got a total overhaul (in 1977), and as such is pretty much unique.
For anyone really interested in the craft of Special Visual Effects - as I am - they should have a place for this on their shelf.
Years before "Cinefex" magazine became a staple for the FX hungry, THIS book was the repository -- the Bible -- of accumulated FX knowledge. The first proper authoritative tome of its kind.
In my childhood, I borrowed this book (along with Jerome Agel's "Making Of 2001" -- the book that influenced James Cameron to pursue a career in special effects) from my local library for well over a year. It fascinated me, and made me want to follow in the footsteps of the people I read about within.
It was my pleasure to become a drinking buddy with Mr Brosnan some years later in London's West End. When I told him this book made him a childhood hero of mine, he groaned and told me he'd lost count of the times that had been told him.
It was an appelation he deserved.
When Mr Brosnan died in 2005 -- I had to miss his funeral literally 5 minutes walk from my house because I had to give a lecture in Ireland. But, I thought of him that day.
I have a copy of this wonderful book that I purchased in a secondhand store in Burbank. Even now, it's an incredible repository of knowledge that anyone with a passing interest in the special effects field should seek out. They'll still learn a trick or two.