Technology has brought about huge changes in films, both in the way they’re made and in the way we watch them. It might seem difficult now to recall films where the effects weren’t generated by computer generated imagery, or CGI, but the technology really took off with Jurassic Park in 1993.

The greatest changes in the revolution of Special Effects happened in the 20th century, with computers.

An early form of motion control was pioneered in 2001: A Space Odyssey, but the technique really took off in the 1977 classic Star Wars, considered one of the most influential special effects films of all time, largely for its use of this technique. George Lucas, with Star Wars, revolutionized the art of film making. No longer were visual effects just cheap tricks; in order to fully realize his dream, Lucas added a new dimension to storytelling. He was among the first to introduce the computer as a fundamental element of the film-making process; dedicated studios with primitive computer hardware helped shape not only Star Wars, but for many movies that have come since. Despite its flaws, it cannot be denied that Star Wars is one of the most important films, at least with regard to its effect on every other film ever since. More recently, films such as Pirates of the Caribbean, The Lord of the Rings and 300 have all been liberal in their usage of special effects in order to enhance the experience of the viewer.

Recently, YouTube , the largest video-sharing website, has agreed to show full-length films from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s archives. The partnership is aimed at boosting advertising revenue for both YouTube and the Hollywood studio. It will result in the launch of a video-on-demand channel called Impact, dedicated exclusively to action films, TV shows and clips.

While the usage of technology and special effects in films have made them more action packed and thrilling, this phenomenon has been severely criticized by many. Chief among the critics is British director Sir Ridley Scott. He claims that technology, which allows people to watch films on mobile phones and computer screens, is killing cinema.

Science and technology have become such an integral part of the film industry that special awards are now being given to honour the developments and achievements of science in films. Some of these include the prestigious Techfilm. It is the oldest festival of films on science, technology and art in Europe. International festival Techfilm is a competitive presentation of latest films and educational products suitable to support the education. In addition to this, the Academy, in the United States, created the Science and Technology Council in 2003 in response to the major technological developments taking place in the motion picture industry.

The impact of science in our lives is becoming more prominent with advances in technology. It is only natural that films will adopt newer and better techniques of production with the advent of time. So should we lament such a development or embrace it as a natural progression? This is a quandary that film makers and critics usually find themselves in.
Tania Kahlon

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