Class #8: Mirror Magic: Creating Visual Effects Using Reflections (Stan Winston School Diary #6)

My final class of my first full paid month! This one is taught by Mark Sawicki of Moulin Rouge!, The Dark Knight Rises, Casanova, The Terminator, and other films you probably know and like. Check out his IMDb page.

The first thing I noticed was Mr. Sawicki’s enthusiasm. He reminds me of an computers class teacher I had way back when who made HTML sound like winning the lottery with his tone. Yes, I did my early 2000’s science credits in web design! A sign of the times. You couldn’t have done so in 1983.

This class goes into the very how to’s of how to create mirror magic. They say Hollywood is all smoke and mirrors. Now, work your FX skills using that logic. For extra low budget films, it may be better to work mirror FX into the projects. Not everyone has a budget like an Avengers film.

The objective in one part was making an actress look like a giant peering into another girl’s dollhouse. The other two: floating from a beam of light and appearing as a ghost. He goes into this being the basis for modern visual FX on computers. You could probably work this in for a different look and contrast it with visual effects in a film.

An example of where you can use mirror effects! After this class, I watched Peter Jackson’s early forgotten film nobody talks about, The Frighteners, thinking, “This mirror technique might have saved everyone the confusion with having the actors do things twice, making the delivery effortless.” In The Frighteners, Mr. Jackson used a separate green screen with actors imagining the ghost actors’ lines. The visual effects in the movie were pretty much like whatever is done here in the lesson. I’m a fan of actors reacting to other people directly in the moment.

The one thing I’m looking forward this summer is, after building my puppetry skills, hitting all of the stop motion classes. The avalanche of knowledge is going to fall on my head this year, haha.

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