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Practical Magic

Don't get me wrong, I love computers. They make our lives easier in so many way, especially when it comes to producing video. Long ago, I had to edit on two linear decks and it was not fun. Non-destructive non-linear editing is the only way to go and I would never want to go back. There are some other old school techniques, however, that I'm beginning to appreciate that don't include computers at all.

I'm talking about some special effects. Adding digital effects in post is all the rage these days and some can look really good (and yes, I have used them). Seeing an actor react to live effect (or "practical" effect), however, is priceless and cannot be replicated it post. Sure, you can tell them to react to something they can't see, but nothing can replace the reality of a live response.

This takes time, of course. Practical effects are all in-camera and must be painstakingly set up. It may take a few times to get it right, but when it works, it works very well.

I'm not dissing all computer-generated effects work. In fact, the marriage of practical and post effects are usually the best ones. If you can enhance an on-screen effect, by all means do. It will be much easier to convey the mood of your story this way. Relying soley on computer effects can be a slippery slope. If no one believes what they are seeing (a problem with a lot of Hollywood product), why would they believe anything you are trying to sell them?


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