Vol. 12 - It’s Just an Illusion

SFX, VFX, CGI... WTF does it even mean?

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A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, Star Wars burst onto the scene and captivated the hearts of millions of nerds worldwide, giving the sci-fi genre a new hope. Its mind-altering special effects brought an entirely new look and feel to films, inspiring the generation to spend their hard-earned coin on action figures, spin-off media, and other memorabilia. Many an Xer, wielding fake lightsabers and salivating over pause-screens of holographic Leia, dreamed of one day working for George Lucas.

2021. TikTok is home to more VFX artists than its algorithms can compute — and these amateurs are looking a lot more like experts thanks to the democratization of powerful editing & post-production tools. Folks like @thejulianbass and @harry.rs are cleaning up on Social while getting noticed by top studio brass — meanwhile, #SFXmakeup and #VFX account for a combined 23 billion views on the platform.

Interestingly enough, this younger cohort is less interested in traditional Hollywood studio gigs — they’re making way more moolah and captivating way more eyeballs delivering cinema-quality excerpts on TikTok.

My, what a brave new world we live in…

P.S.: so what is the difference between SFX, VFX and CGI, you ask? Special effects are visual tricks shot on-set (AKA practical effects), visual effects are eyeball candy added in post-production once a shoot wraps, and CGI is the output of computerized 3D objects rendered on-screen. Now, you’re basically a pro.


Pixar Story / A 24-Year Animation Transformation

In Search of Sci-Fi / New Doc Gathers Icons From Walter Koenig to John Carpenter

How’d They Do That? / Film School Rejects Unpack Moments of Movie Magic 

The Leia Project / Holography Group at BYU Turns Up the Volumetrics

Stranger Things Have Happened / VFX World Finally Opens Doors for Women

MetaHuman(ity) / Epic Games Brings a Digital You to Life in Minutes

Behind the Camera / TikTok Series Puts the Special in SFX

Content Gnomies / @gnomeboys Cram Impressive Edits Into 60 Seconds

Post-production Pressure / 12 Creators On Their Hardest Edit To Date

Inside the Cutting Room / Podcast Features Interviews With Top Film & TV Creators


Atlanta-based Videodrome is one of the last surviving video stores in the Southeast. No algorithms here - these brains know movies inside and out, which is why we’re stoked to share their video shop picks this week. We promise these groundbreaking SFX masterpieces will blow your mind… Scanners style.

Jason and the Argonauts / Don Chaffey, 1963 (G)
From classic Greek mythology comes this fantastic tale of action and adventure featuring the mind-blowing special effects by the master of stop-motion, Ray Harryhausen. 

Devil Rides Out / Terence Fisher, 1968 (G)
This late Hammer satanic adventure had its special effects restored and enhanced by StudioCanal for a Blu-ray restoration in 2015. The results are magnificent, merging old and new technology to create a diabolically atmospheric cinematic experience. 

The Brood / David Cronenberg, 1979 (R)
As much as we love the special effects in Scanners (1981), Videodrome (1983), and The Fly (1986), we are here to show some love for Rick Baker’s primal, disturbing work in one of Cronenberg’s earliest films. 

Demon Pond / Mashiro Shinoda, 1979  (NR)
Stylish Japanese ghost story/fairy tale that weaves crab-humans, catfish, and mud people into a unique fable, culminating with a breathtaking disaster sequence in which the waters of Demon Pond rise to flood an entire valley. 

The Hidden / Jack Sholder, 1987 (R)    
Quirky and intelligent sci-fi thriller that opens with an astonishing ultra-violent police chase sequence and continues to captivate with a series of practical and stop-motion effects. 

Curated by: Videodrome / @Videodrome


“Rockit” by Herbie Hancock

Herbie Hancock, child prodigy and classically trained pianist, got all shook up in a ‘67 recording session when mentor Miles Davis asked him to play a Wurlitzer electric piano.  The self proclaimed “jazz snob” turned up his nose at anything but a Steinway, but within a few swanky keystrokes, Herbie was hooked.  He learned that a “toy” could be a powerful instrument of experimentation and he never judged a piano by its cover again.  

Later collaborating with Bill Laswell and Michael Beinhorn, the crew recorded “Rockit” — a mystical fusion of jazz, electro, funk, hip-hop and classical music.  The record scratched, everyone wigged, and the rest is history.

Despite the track’s street success, MTV execs in those early days caught flack for their alleged reluctance in promoting black artists on-air. The workaround: directors Kevin Godley and Lol Creme created a psychedelic world of white mannequins and robots dancing along to Herbie’s sick rhythms with very little visual reference to Herbie himself. Grody for sure, but it worked — not only did “Rockit” secure hella airtime, it also scored five MTV Video Music Awards in 1984, including the first for best special effects.

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