Not-So-Special Effects

Special Effects in Film and TVSpecial Effects in Film and Television

Submitter: Here’s a nice book on movie special effects. From 1998. A few things have changed in the last 20 years in this particular topic. Animatronics and puppets are prominently covered, with a couple pages tacked on at the end to cover the newest upcoming trend—digital effects! Wow! Maybe it’s time for an updated title.

Holly: All the examples featured in this book are also, of course, 20 years old. The methods used for the special effects in recent movies and TV shows (Star Wars, Game of Thrones, Guardians of the Galaxy…) make the ones featured in this book look pretty primitive. Planet of the Apes is a whole new animal. #punintended


Making it move

special effects ape

Digital dragons

Computer magic



  1. All this book needs is an upgrade–it’d be great if they kept all the old info, though, as part of history. I had to write about movie special effects past and present for a kids’ magazine before this book was published, and it was really hard to find good information (wish I’d had this book then!). I still write for kids, and find myself fossicking around online to buy old books such as this to get a better sense of history. Not saying that that means you should keep this book, but rather that I hope the publisher updates without tossing out all the great stuff in this title.

  2. It’s a pity that Dorling Kindersley hasn’t updated this one. (I just checked their website and couldn’t find any references to a newer version.)

    When my children were younger, they loved DK books and I enjoyed them as well.

    Although CG has taken over much of the special effects field, there are still a number of prominent directors who insist on “practical effects” (Christopher Nolan comes to mind) and the book appears to have interesting content even for modern readers.

  3. I’m surprised there isn’t more digital effects, they’ve been around for a while, they’ve just become a lot better, and cheaper, over the years. Of course, books on digital probably date really fast.

  4. There’s a stamp with the library’s information in the third picture (Animating Animals). You might want to edit that.

  5. I like the old books on special effects and makeup. My favorite one is from the 70’s and includes some of the details from the really old the days, 20’s. Not relevant but great for history and more doable for small places like haunted houses.

  6. That’s so cool! I think it is good to learn about practical effects, even if CG is more common.

  7. This was one of my favorite books in our elementary school library. We always flipped through it and looked at the pictures.

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