SPECIAL EFFECTS is a very broad category. While many other categories included here on our website also fall within special effects, to simplify navigation we include here only specific areas not covered in our other related categories:
"It's always strange to see something you've made being burned, shattered, etc. It always brings back home the reminder that it is not an object that you've created for filming, but a process." - Robert Devine
SHATTER EFFECTS and Exploding Special Effects require a combination of both technical experience and experimentation. The right choices of materials and processes bring the right unique qualities together and make this magic work. Shattering effects usually involve molding the objects to be shattered and creating lifelike, hollow replicas of them in resins, urethanes, waxes, sugar glass, plasters or aggregate combinations. We use combinations of pyrotechnics, air cannons, mechanical impacts, wire pulls, pre-scoring, and other techniques to achieve our shatter effects.
BURN EFFECTS that are truly convincing usually require real fire with objects made out of specially chosen materials, ones that will not create a health hazard or destroy the illusion by shattering, popping, bubbling or generating toxic fumes. Gypsum plaster is a good material for burn effects- it can be cast thin and lightweight into highly detailed silicone molds and painted with acrylics to achieve trompe l'oeil realism. Natural gases, fire gels and flammable liquids are highly dangerous and always require the supervision of a certified pyrotechnician on set.
FREEZE EFFECTS involve more fakery with clear vacuum form plastics, casting resins and silicones standing in for ice, with the illusion aided by cotton batting snow blankets, bead foam, spray snow, fine foam crystals, methyl cellulose, silicone oil, a-b smoke, liquid nitrogen, and other materials.
BODY DOUBLES / PORTRAITS
LOOK ALIKES are lifelike, articulated dummies that can take punishment far beyond what our bodies are capable of. We kill the best- we have exploded, shattered, skewered, burned, battered and frozen many of Hollywood's best.
Duplicating people, especially well-known people, is one of the most technically demanding disciplines, utilising
many special effects techniques and skills:
• accurate sculpting of both broad forms and fine details.
• extensive life molding for reference or casting.
• casting and pigmenting materials with the movement and translucency of skin over armatures that mimic the movement of skeletons.
• rigging effects bodies with bungee cords that can mimic the bounce of muscles.
STUNT BODIES not only need to look realistic, they also need to move realistically -not to mention endure violence far beyond what human bodies are capable of. Due to its combination of durability, elasticity and realistic translucency, silicone rubber has become a very useful material for creating heads, hands and any other exposed skin. Soft urethane foams work well for body parts that are covered with clothing. Depending on applications, the armature (bones) and moving joints of the bodies can be made of anything from lightweight plastic tubing to heavy duty, welded steel and/or aluminum. Stunt bodies can either be made posable - usually easiest with internal flexible aluminum wire holing the parts in position- or they can be left loose, for falls and impacts. When left loose, the strategic placement of bungee cords give more convincing snap and bounce when the limbs are in motion.