SPECIAL EFFECTS DAYS

At Boss films on PREDATOR1Willy dude

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10 thoughts on “SPECIAL EFFECTS DAYS

  1. This thread will be some memoirs of my days in Hollywood doing special effects for “the movies”.
    As WordPress won’t let me write anything after the photo, but only on top of it – I will just continue in the comments section…
    boss films predator
    This is a photo of Steve Wang, a very talented artist-sculptor working on a design at Boss Films headed by Steve Johnson, the first effects shop to begin working on the effects for the film PREDATOR.
    Mr Wang went on to design the new Predator suit at Stan Winston’s Studio, after Steve Johnson lost the show.
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    • Now Hollywood can be likened to Sodom & Gomorrah metaphorically…sex & drugs & rock’n’roll, yes in the film industry as well. Several of the special FX shops I worked at were hotbeds of drug use, and in that period, the 80’s the drug of choice was generally cocaine. Personally I am not a fan of any type of stimulants, nor of sedatives. I prefer natural remedies, if you will.
      I will be frank and reveal that Steve Johnson had issues with that major drug of choice, and that this indirectly led to the cancellation of doing the effects for Predator.
      Another whom I have intimate knowledge of is Rob Bottin, who had the same problems, and it was a car crash that brought the issue to the fore just as in Steve’s case.

      This being said, I will dispense with the PEOPLE Magazine approach on this thread, although personal issues and “office politics” will be spoken to here as well as information on the types of effects involved in these shops.
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  2. I fell in love with the film KING KONG, the original RKO feature from 1933. It was shown in LA on “Channel 9 Movie Theater. This was a feature that began at 9pm Monday through Friday, plus a matinee and evening slot on Saturdays, and another matinee on Sunday. I watched the whole film every single showing!
    I was 9 years old at the time too, so how’s that for synchronicity?? grin

    I saw it on TV every chance I got. About the time I was 12 years old a magazine called FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND by Forrest J. Akerman . One of the earlier issues had a feature article on Ray Harryhausen, who was a mentor of Willis O’Brian the special effects supervisor on KONG. The whole art and technique of “table-top animation” was explained in the several issues that continued after the first.
    A friend of mine who lived across the street at the time was as into this film effects stuff as I was. We got together and studied those magazines together nightly. It wasn’t long until we were both experimenting with 8mm cameras and making our own clay creatures to animate.

    It was exciting to see something created by yourself seemingly come “alive” on film!! I was hooked after seeing my first crude attempt at the process.

    Dave Carson, my neighbor friend and I began experimenting with plaster and making miniature sets, and also began experimenting with mold making with latex rubber to make our “Animodels” (animation models – or animation puppets). When I was in my early 20’s I finally got a’hold of a 16mm Bolex for my movie experiments, some of which included using a GI Joe articulated doll for some animation.

    My family moved to Phoenix, Arizona between my Junior and Senor years of HS, separating me from Dave of course.
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    • The Technique of Special-effects Cinematography (Hastings House Revised Edition 1968)
      Raymond Fielding

      I was given this book as a gift from David L. Carson in 1968. Dave and I grew up together in Southern California. As kids we both made 8 mm films together and separately.
      Dave eventually went up to work at Lucas Films in Northern California. I remained in the LA area and went on to work in the Hollywood film industry, both union and non-union special effects shops.
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  3. Scenes recycled…

    Bar-Neth was introduced in the Tour Scan by Dan Android at the Tokyo Disneyland Star Tours.[1] The location and footage was in actually recycled from one of the locations from the now-defunct Epcot dark ride attraction Horizons, specifically the Mesa Verde ending segment of the ride. Mesa Verde, the segment of Horizons that the clip originated from, focused on the concept of arid-zone agriculture, even going as far as to give a smell of fresh oranges at one segment of the ride.[5]
    Actually, the models for the three ending segments of Horizons had been designed, constructed and filmed by none other than David Jones, a special-effects veteran of Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope. According to Jones, the desert film involved an 86-foot model and was the longest continuous sequence ever done with miniatures.[5] In addition, to save up on the budget, the set only had one house developed. In the original Horizons ride, the plant groves being harvested were laorange trees, also known as long orange trees.[6]
    http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Bar-Neth

  4. A shot of the set being dressed;
    http://i2.wp.com/progresscityusa.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/medaverde_model_web.jpg?

    I designed developed and produced all of the miniature flora for this project with the help of two assistants. I don’t recall their names at the moment. Most of the people involved with this project were Art Center graduates who just previous to this project, had worked on Ridley Scott’s BLADE RUNNER. Pat McClung was lead on the space station and space sequence on this project. He went on to direct special effects for INDEPENDENCE DAY.
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    • I had worked with Pat McClung a year or so earlier on a “spec” project called THE PYRAMID BEYOND. Pat designed and made a model of “the Stinger” a spaceship resembling a wasp.

      It was quite a varied group assembled for a project on speculation, with no money up front for your contribution. Uri Hung, Sid Mead, several animatronics experts from W.E.D., Imagineering, McClung, or course, and many others. I had a lot of input on the backstories on characters and places, designing several alien races, the Plidians (good guys) and the Gox-an-Hee (bad insect guys). There was a “God Tree” that is pre-reminiscent of a concept in Avitar.

      A lot of the ideas for fauna that I developed and designed during this project eventually became manifest in Universal Studio’s dark ride ET Planet. I worked with Carl Surges on creating a miniature landscape, and then we went to Florida to work on the full scale plants at a place called Sally Industries (Jacksonville). Quite a fun adventure as well as an exciting project.

      uri haung
      A Uri Hung rendering
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  5. Note: The entries to this page will be sparse until I get a new scanner copier. I have a lot of hard copy imagery that will get put up here once I get that. So check back from time to time.
    Thanks, Willy
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