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Special Effects—Titanic and Beyond

Program Overview


NOVA reveals the secrets behind the on-screen images that have captured moviegoers' imaginations for years.

  • The art of special effects relies on understanding perception—how the eye and brain perceive the world—and using that knowledge to make something look real when it isn't.

  • Special effects used in early movie making, including "King Kong," "Ben Hur" and "Gone with the Wind," are highlighted.

  • The role that color, light, form, motion and depth play in perception—and how those can be manipulated to fool viewers—is explored.

  • Some of the techniques used to film "Titanic"—including model making, computer animation and green screen technology—are described.

  • Pyrotechnics experts—who blow up a building for "The X-Files" movie—use models, lighting and slow motion to achieve a realistic scene.

  • The future challenge for computer special effects artists—how to make a computer-generated human being look completely real—is also explored.

Teacher's Guide
Special Effects—Titanic and Beyond
PROGRAM OVERVIEW VIEWING IDEAS CLASSROOM ACTIVITY IDEAS FROM TEACHERS RELATED NOVA RESOURCES INTERACTIVE FOR STUDENTS