Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, January 26, 2006




Diving into the world of special effects

Hey you all movie lovers, a happy new year to all of you. Last year was a monumental year as far as movies are concerned. The much awaited prequel to the Batman series Batman Begins was released and to make the movie watchers experience intense, the final episode in the New Star Wars trilogy rocked the box office. The year ended gloriously with the release of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Plus there were bits and pieces of eye candy movies all throughout the year. So in short, the year couldn't have been better.

What about the animated movies? Movies like The Incredibles and Madagascar made huge impact in the arena. Polar Express and Robots took the animation level to absolute new heights. Considering the amount of business these CG animated movies (both pure and hybrid animation) did, I guess it's safe to say that traditional movies are a thing of the past (well almost nearly, I hope). That's right! I am going to talk about the changing trends in the Hollywood motion picture industry. For the last 10 years, from the release of the hugely successful toy story, Hollywood has gradually shifted towards making more and more animated movies. Not only that there have been more fully animated feature films, computers have taken over the production process of regular feature films as well. Some movies, such as the Star Wars and the Matrix, the use of special fx are apparent. But in others, such as Mel Gibson's The Patriot or Brad Pitt's Fight Club, it plays a crucial behind the scene part, making the fx look taken for granted.

The first ever use of animation in Hollywood was noted in 1914 in the animated movie Gertie. Gertie was a dinosaur who was brought to life using ten thousand individually drawn and inked picture on rice paper. Years later, the audience experienced a different type of movie fx, called the visual fx, which is basically seamlessly putting studio effects into live shot video. The earliest instance of commercial visual fx was showed on screen in the movie The Time Machine in 1960. In the meantime Disney continued producing 2D animated hand drawn cartoons like the classic Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and 101 Dalmatians for the mass audience. CG was still at its infancy, a sweet giant taking its first breath. The possibilities of a full CG based movie were still being researched in various labs and for military and gaming purpose. Although not fully blown movies yet, but pioneers went on working finding means of animating and representing 3D objects onto a 2D object silently but surely.

By the 1970's visual effects was in heavy use and in high demand by the Hollywood studios. It was at this peak time that movies such as Star Wars (Original Trilogy), Superman, Star Trek and Alien was produced. The trend continued phenomenally in the 1980s with the release of the remaining Star Wars trilogy, The Indiana Jones series and ET. In 1982, TRON became the first movie to feature about 20 minutes of entirely computer generated graphics for the first time. Dawning the Beginning of a new age for Hollywood.

In the software development front, packages such as Maya and 3D studio max are now available to desktop computer users, giving them the power to create their own CG animations. Still out of the reach of the general and home users for sheer price tag and hardware demand, it still captured the imagination of the studios. These packages came with the power to create traditional hand drawn like animation, slowly forcing the traditionalists to move into 2.5D genre of key-frame based animation.

To acknowledge the changing industry, Oscar foundation has introduced a new category for full length animation movies. The competition is intense, with studios trying to show off more of their abilities and rendering power. But sheer technology hasn't taken over the ability to tell a beautiful story. Movies like Finding Nemo still touches our heart ( I almost cry in the last scene! Just kidding).

In the second part of this series write-up, I will go deeper into the movie making process, explaining different techniques and how animators make these virtual characters come alive with emotion and feelings. Till then, Grab a pack of Pop corn and keep your eyes glued to the screen. Adios.

By Tanvir Hafiz

Review by Gokhra

Cast & Credits:Erin Bruner: Laura Linney, Father Moore: Tom Wilkinson, Ethan Thomas: Campbell Scott, Doctor: Shohreh Aghdashloo, Emily Rose: Jennifer Carpenter, Karl Gunderson: Colm Feore, Judge Brewster: Mary Beth Hurt

This is an intriguing and perplexing movie. It is based on the true story of a priest who was accused of murder after a teenage girl died during an exorcism. It's scary to a certain degree. Let's face it, a movie with the word “Exorcism” in the title has to be scary.

The plot:
The movie is told through flashbacks from a courtroom, where Father Moore (Tom Wilkinson) is on trial. He has been offered a deal to plead guilty and do six years of a 12-year sentence. But he refuses it because all he cares about is telling Emily Rose's story.

His lawyer Erin Bruner (Laura Linney) admires him for his conviction though she herself does not believe in demons. The prosecutor, Ethan Thomas (Campbell Scott) is a stout churchgoer and does presumably believe but his job is to disprove what the priest believes.

Emily Rose (Jennifer Carpenter) is a college student who sees the faces of friends and strangers turn into demonic snarls. Her nightmares are haunting. She speaks in foreign languages. She loses an alarming amount of weight. She calls home for help, in tears. The parish priest, Father Moore, is called in, and determines that an exorcism is indicated.

He has authorization from the archdiocese (something like the boss of a church) but after being charged with murder the church authorities order him to accept plea bargaining and create as little scandal for the church as possible. Prosecutor Ethan Thomas is trying to nail Father Moore and paint the late Emily Rose who suffered epileptic seizures which were mistaken by the family to be a sign of possession.

The premise of the movie is based on asking the court to decide on matters the court cannot have an opinion on. There is no such law regarding exorcism. Either Emily was possessed by a demon and Father Moore did his best to save her, or she had a psychotic condition and he unwittingly did his best to kill her.

The defense and the prosecution mount strong arguments and call persuasive witnesses, but in the end it all comes down to the personal beliefs of the jury.

The verdict:
The movie takes place in a small town surrounded by remote buildings. The crux of the story lies in the relationship between the priest and his defense attorney. Erin Bruner does not believe in devils, but she believes in Father Moore, and she believes he believes in them. Phew!

Erin works for a powerful law firm retained by the archdiocese. The archdiocese wants a quick settlement of the matter without the priest giving a testimony. The priest of course wants to tell the tale. This puts Erin into a moral as well as personal dilemma.

So far it sounds a bit like a law movie right? Wrong. The entire series of the exorcism is told through very graphic flashbacks. Scary? Definitely. Puzzling? Very. In the end Emily Rose's story does get told, although no one can agree about what it means.

Demons exist whether you believe in them or not.

INFLUENCES: Iron Maiden, Incubus, John Myung.
INFLUENCES: Iron Maiden, Cryptic Fate, Tool, A Perfect Circle.
INFLUENCES: Iron Maiden, Tool, Pantera, Steve Vai, APC, Dream Theatre
INFLUENCES: Iron Maiden, Savatage.
INFLUENCES: Iron maiden, Children of Bodom, Dream Theatre, Joe Satriani, In Flames.
First Show: 2002 Old DOHS open air concert.

RS: So what genre is Birodh exactly?
Birodh: We are trying to shift from metal towards a different genre. But, we still play Iron Maiden numbers nonetheless.

RS: Lots of bands talk about what special incidents or ideas made them keep their particular band name. Do you guys have any special reasons why you wanted to keep the band name?
Birodh: We always wanted to keep a Bangla name, so basically that is why we kept it. Not that special reason of any sort.

RS: How did the band start out initially? Were all of you friends?
Birodh: Not all of us, but Ishtiaque, Moin and Armaan used to jam together in STM hall, and also play gigs at friend's birthday parties. Moin was mainly in the band since he knew the names of the drum parts (hehe). Later on, Dhrubo, who possibly entered the band since he wanted to play Metal music, joined us. And slowly after a few line-up changes in guitars, we had Adnan. Tanveer then joined in.

RS: You haven't played on stage for quite a long time. What is the reason? People are starting to think you guys are taking a long break. Is the band thinking of coming with a blast?
Birodh: Well, actually for the past few months, we were held up for our studies. Many of our members were busy with admission papers, A-Level exams and Universities.

Shamma: Since when have you been learning your respective instruments? Are there any side projects you guys are involved with?

Dhrubo: Since 2001, I used to play in many different bands, but now I don't play in any apart from Birodh.

Tanveer: I actually worked at first as a photographer, and later started playing in 2001, to make my 'haat paka'! About my side bands, I also play in Bluesteel.

Adnan: I have been playing since the beginning of 2000 January. Joined the band last year after the ISD performance. Used to play in Delude.

Armaan: Been learning since 1999. Have been playing in band Obhishap side by side.

Ishtiaque: First band first love! ;)

Moin: I play drums since 2000, but am still not satisfied with it. And about side project, I also play in Bluesteel, and have another side project called Mayhem.

RS: Any funny/ weird on stage or backstage memorable experiences you guys had?
Moin(smirking): Well(ahem), you see, I have oily hands, so sometime the drumstick falls off, and you can actually see me playing the drums by hand !!!

Dhrubo(hehe): I had a rather embarrassing experience. Once I was jumping off stage over the crowd, and my sneakers came off, tore the strings of my guitars, and the rest you don't wanna know!

RS: So can we expect any releases from you guys soon?
Birodh: Hopefully we are going to release a song in a mixed album called Haatiar.

RS: Which venue did you enjoy performing the most?
Birodh(In chorus): STM hall and Old DOHS!

RS: What is the special 'thing' in 'Birodh'? What do you think makes you guys different from other bands?
Dhrubo: We are not usually very serious while playing, but when we are on stage we try and give our best output.

Ishtiaque: We are probably the only band who possibly had very less problems.

Moin: Yes, that is true! In fact we give preference to our members as friends first, and then the band! We play more for the love of music and the blood rush we get when we are on stage and the crowd response is awesome.

Adnan, Tanveer: Many a time, when someone makes a mistake on stage, the rest of the band tries to cover it up well.

RS: So how many line-up changes have you had?
Birodh: Well, at first when we started, we had Zaqaria as a guitarist. Then Saidul came in and eventually now we have Adnan.

RS: It has been four years since you guys have entered the underground scene. Obviously you have achieved far more since the beginning. Anybody you would like to credit for your band's success so far?
Birodh: Sure. First of all TAUSIF, our parents, Duray bhai, Ershad bhai, Stentorian, Delude, dNA, Cryptic Fate, Nemesis, Synopsis, MZZ, Nayeem(Manager),Tanvir bhai, SMF, Sabrina(RS), Shaaz, Borsha, Tauhid, Piyal, Sarah, Shadman, Tamara, Tamara and Tamara, Faiaz, Zayan, Saadu, Sharhan, Omair, Rezwan, Sajib (whew), AIESEC(Moin), everyone who have supported us both on and off-stage, and of course our dear RS reporter Shamma!



home | Issues | The Daily Star Home

© 2006 The Daily Star