Here you will find a series of articles that will reveal the secrets of the movie industry and how special effects and prosthetics evolved from an artisanal practice into the technological expertise that can be appreciated today.
Regarding special effects specifically, you will read about how CGI, make up and masks are created. The amount of work needed to take several molds of the actors face or body parts is impressive. These rise sometimes to up to ten different models, both positives and negative, in order to create the final seamless silicone, latex or gelatine look that transform the actors into monsters or aliens.
The Schüfftan effect explains how technicians in the late 1920s created the illusion of a fantastic background with the help of a scale model and a mirror.
The matte effect is the evolution of the Schüfftan effect. It relies on large sections of painted canvases which are place behind actors to give the impression of a fantastic background.
Chroma Key Composition, or the Blue/ Green Screen is the immediate evolution of the matte effect. It relies on computer post-processing, transforming the blue or green colored screen into transparent space, which in turn can be filled with shots filmed separately.
The Miniature Effect is used by movie directors to film scale models from different angles, which are later placed behind actors as full scale environments. In the maquette section you can read about how these scale models are manufactured.
Computer generated image helps movie makers to create outstanding background, but without ever creating them into the real world. Milling, 3D printing or rapid prototyping are other modern techniques that allow movie sets creators to build in a fast and easy manner highly detailed models.