Thursday, December 15, 2005

Special Effects

It’s quiz time again!

Do you know how the special effects like those below were created back in the days of black and white Hong Kong movies, when even the digital calculator did not exist?

The special effects of those days were really a far cry from what you see in today’s movies. Nevertheless, it did not stop us from having a good time at the movies. One particular scene from a Journey To The West (西游记 ) movie remains in my mind after more than 40 years. I remember nothing else about this movie except this one scene. Try to picture it. Wukong (孙悟空)and his master and Piggie are peacefully traveling on a raft on a river. Suddenly, a huge (T-rex size) hand emerges from the water behind them to grab them.

Of course the Chinese action movies those days also had very little bloodshed. The most violent scenes usually involved plunging your sword under the enemy’s armpit!

PS – Going for a break. Here’s wishing everyone a blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year.


Lionel Tan said...

I still remeber around 1994 that time there is a TV ads on beer or something have the effect of the first photo!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Aki Tan said...

not too sure.... for the first photo did they draw cartoon hands on each frame of the film so that when played it would be like an animated cartoon?

and for the t-rex.... did they use a small model and play with perspective? I think that was the same trick they used in Lord of the Rings to make the hobbits look small....

let us know how they were done!

Anonymous said...

Chun See's photos are from the so-called black & white action movies in the fifties. The special effects were wowing audience at that time. As for special effects in the Monkey Goes West, they were absolutely stunning. Why? because the film was produced by a Japanese Co called Taho and was shown in a theatre called Metropole, now defunct. It has since functioned as a church located at the junction of Maxwell Road and Tg Pagar Road. Apart for the huge hand (Sa Chiang's)popping out from below the sea. The monkey god could fly, swim, go underground, blew his hairs and turned them replicas of himself etc etc. The special effects were so impactful that I can even relate them today. Japanese cinematography is indeed great.

juz_A_ga| said...

It would be nice if there was "The making of.." for old movies all the way up to the new ones we see now.

Anonymous said...

uncle chun see,

im waiting for your return!
merry xmas and happy new year!!

- EteL

Anonymous said...

Hi Uncle See, Good to read your blog. Very interesting.


fuzzoo said...

My guess is that in front of the cameras they hold up transparent plastic sheets and on these sheets there would be whatever it is that they want inserted into the scene. So while the camera films the live action, there would be these plastic sheets that someone moves about to create the special effects. Is that right? Merry Christmas and I look forward to your return.

Anonymous said...

When I think of old HK kungfu movies, I always think of scenes of a someone walking stealthily along the roof top with the pipa music in the badground; esp the tune "shi mian mai fu"

Lam Chun See said...

By now you guys would have known that I often do not know the answers to the quiz questions which I set. I was hoping someone reader could provide the correct answer.

But I do recall seeing a documentary on Discovery Channel which said that they actually scratched or painted the pictures on the negatives to achieve the special effects.