IDEA: For the first project, we decided to explore the history, and evolution, of special effects in the opening title of the TV series. We decided to narrow down the search to the opening because play a very important role as they have recurring elements that attract and conquer the audience even before yout sart watching the episode.

PRELIMINARY: Before starting work we have done a thorough search to find out what years in television began broadcasting television series, and later TV series which had titres within which the parties had made thanks to special effects. Once collected the material we decided to split material found in 3 macroblocks: 60s­‐70s, 80s-­90s and 2000s – present day.

DEVELOPMENT: Each of these macroblocks consists of a video that summarizes the opening that, in our opinion, have been more important in the era under consideration. In each of these videos we made sure to show the title of the series, this in addition to contextualize the series, manages to understand how the history of special effects has evolved and transformed from the ’60s to today. To give the impression of a journey in time we have achieved a kind of lift a spacecraft that carries a kind of time travel. Every time the elevator opens, you see a room, furnished in the style of the period examined. Next, we’re going to zoom in on the tv that will show the video era. At the end there will be the closing of the doors , and the displacement of the ship forward in time.

TECHNICAL DEVELOPMENT: At a technical level, we have created all the graphics of the lift, the rooms and the TV through Adobe Illustrator. For video editing we used Adobe Premiere. Finally, we have exported both graphic video in After Effects and created the final video.

Maria Teresa Gabbiadini

Manuel Ibba

Luca Quaranta

Antonella Vannucci


VFX in Music Videos, Experimenting with the clone effect


di Massimiliano Manzo, Giorgia Salis, Francesco Strada


Music video date back in the past, starting in the 1940’s with “Soundies”, simple clips mainly showing dances and choreographies, they were presented in special jukeboxes kept in bar and restaurants. In the 60’s music videos gained more of a promotional role for bands, being the Beatles an example of such use in the music industry. Later Australia’s “Countdown” and UK’s “Top Of The Pops” began airing music videos in television but the game changing event in 1981 was the launch in the US of the video channel MTV airing “Video Killed The Radio Star” by The Buggles, starting a 24 hour a day music video broadcast. All throughout the 80’s many bands and singers such as Duran Duran, Peter Gabriel and Madonna, gained popularity thanks to these videos. At the beginning of the 90’s MTV started listing also the directors, showing that they had become an important medium, artists like Chris Cunningham, Michel Gondry, Spike Jonze and Mark Romanek began working in this time.

These directors started experimenting with a totality of techniques and visual effects, using compositing and animation technology in order to fully express their visions; crafting some of the most exceptional music videos of all time. We got inspired from the usage of cloning effect in clips like “Come Into My World” (performed by Kylie Minogue, directed by Michel Gondry) and “Tensione Evolutiva” (performed by Lorenzo Jovanotti, directed by Gabriele Muccino). A remarkable feature in both clips is the camera moving along with the clones. In the former video this was accomplished with the usage of a motion control[1], while the latter was filmed with a 10K resolution and then a virtual camera was implemented in AE[2]. Due to technical limitations we weren’t able to replicate this but we experimented with the cloning effect realizing a short music clip featuring “The Hardest Button To Button” by The White Stripes.

To achieve the illusion we filmed two different shots with the camera on a tripod in order to keep the setting and the framing as similar as possible: only the character and some objects were moved and always placed in specific positions. We imported such clips in After Effects placing one on top of the other in two different levels. With a mask drawn using the pen tool we revealed just a portion of the second clip, the one were the clone acted, and we animated the mask in order to make it follow the clone adding key frames to the mask shape. To avoid the perception of the mask we had to fix to main problems one was not to show a clear-cut between the two shots, this was fixed changing the mask feather. Secondly we had to manage differences in light for the two different clips, using RGB curves we were able to obtain almost the exact same exposure achieving the illusion of just one shot. Once the clone had gone from the scene we slowly revealed the underlying clip changing the mask opacity from 100 to 0. A video explanation is also present at the end of our clip.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qw9FAxywDJ8

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1A7rQ4svbkE

TRON (1982) – Gli effetti speciali del cult movie visti attraverso le interviste a Harrison Ellenshaw e Chris Casady

di Davide Mantovani, Marco Porcaro, Simone Villa

“Salve. Il Master Control Program vi ha scelto per servire il vostro sistema sulla Griglia di Gioco. Quelli di voi che continuano a professare la fede negli Utenti riceveranno la formazione declassificante standard, che si tradurrà in un eventuale eliminazione.”

TRON 1982

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TRON (1982) – The cult movie visual effects

by Davide Mantovani, Marco Porcaro, Simone Villa

“Greetings. The Master Control Program has chosen you to serve your system on the Game Grid. Those of you who continue to profess a belief in the Users will receive the standard substandard training, which will result in your eventual elimination.”

TRON 1982

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Oscars Effects – Mary Poppins’ Levels


by Noemi Bodino, Michela Pratola, Giulia Tasca

Original title: Mary Poppins
Country of production: USA
Year: 1964
Genres: comedy, musicals, fantastic
Directed by: Robert Stevenson
Produced by: Walt Disney and Bill Walsh
Special Effects: Peter Ellenshaw, Eustace Lycett, Robert A. Mattey
Academy Award for Best Special Effects in 1965.

The film uses different techniques which blend together:
Animatronics: technology that uses electronic components and robotics to provide freedom of movement for persons. An example is the nightingales which interact with Mary Poppins.
Sodium Process: It allows to overlap actors and animation. Before the invention of blue and green screen, a sodium vapor screen was used to put the actors in the cartoon.
Matte Painting: technique used to allow the representation of landscapes in cinema industry. Matte paintings were made by artists using paints or pastels on large sheets of glass for integrating with the live-action footage. An example is the reproduction of the rooftops of London.
Meticulous attention of Walt Disney for the synchrony of movements, the spatial positions and lights make it indistinguishable for the viewers the distance between the animated characters and real characters.

Two scenes of the film were selected: the jump of Mary Poppins and Bert with the children into the picture and the scene of the Penguins that greet Mary.
Using a simple reflex take some shoot on a moving subject near an outside wall with natural light, reproducing the two scenes.
Once you have downloaded the recorded material you proceed with the processing in After Effects.
Uploaded the video of the jump in the picture, with the Roto Brush tool select the subject and delete the background. Check frame by frame that the rotoscoping selection selects only the subject and doesn’t take other parts of the scene filmed.
Then search for images that reproduce the scene of the jump seen in the film; once selected drag in AE and resize the subject and the background, make the light harmonious using various effects that the software offers. Through key points define the trajectory of the jump.
Use the plug-in Trapcode Particular to create the fog effect in the transition from one scenario to another.

It now goes on to explain the scene of penguins. Create a new composition in AE with the video of the shootings, the scene of the movie to repeat, a background image, a table and a chair (preferably in cartoon style). Here, as in the previous work, use the Roto Brush tool to cut out the real subject and the penguins of Mary Poppins. Resize all uploaded items like in the movie. Check the lights to try to blend as much as possible reality and fiction.
Once the work of the special effects ended, the final video can be mounted on Adobe Premiere Pro to add audio.