Behind the success of the 15 best films in history, their special effects and its important technological advances

The history of all of the film success over the years is driven by two important engines. The first is creativity which is driven by screenwriters to devise such iconic stories and characters, and to shape great films, feature films and short films. However, all this inventiveness would not be possible without the important presence of the second great promoter of this art, technological advances.

In the following lines you can discover the talent of 15 iconic art pieces of cinema whose technological advances gave an important pattern in this universe, which managed to transform and convert the one we know today.

special effects in the cinema, cinema technological advance

1. Roundhay Garden Scene a technological advance of 1888 and great special effects.

Labeled by the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest film preserved today, this short piece, created by inventor Louis Aimé Augustin, is the first to show consecutive royal action. A pioneering work that advanced none other than Edison and the Lumière and our first production on the list of technological advances. Great jewel of the S. XIX.

2. Come Along, Do! a technological advance of 1898 with incredible special effects.

This short film by British director Robert W. Paul tells us a very simple story but with a very important special effects: an old couple is having lunch outside a museum and at the end of the day they can follow some visitors and enter the exhibition to see it. What seems to have no mystery at all proposed an authentic revolution not only technological, but also creative, since we witnessed the first use of montage to establish continuity between planes, relating the action of the first, upon entering the door of the museum, and the second, in which they are already inside seeing the statues.

3. Journey to the Moon (Le Voyage dans la Lune) a technological advance of 1902

Georges Méliès is a true revolutionary of cinema, not only for this work of art entitled "Journey to the Moon", but for all its extensive and fascinating filmographic trajectory. The work of the legendary French filmmaker translates into innovations, both creative, with the use and refinement of surprising techniques and special effects such as stop motion or double exposure as logistics. Méliès is credited with the construction of the world’s first film studio, built in his garden using a greenhouse. It is said that to avoid the projection of the harsh shadows generated by sunlight, the filmmaker created a series of paper curtains that acted as diffusers. Amazing, isn’t it?

4. Humorous Phases of Funny Faces a technological advance of 1906 and the greatest special effects.

We welcome the animation film, which takes place in these three minutes directed by J. Stuart Blackton and edited by Edison himself with a simple technique nowadays -in which a segment of the image moves, changes or erases in each frame-, but incredibly innovative for the time. Eleven years later, in 1917, the Argentine filmmaker Quirino Cristiani would sign an authentic piece of art "The Apostol 2, the first animated feature film in history; a political satire made with 58,000 35mm drawings and models, animated at 14 frames per second.

5. Cabiria a technological advance of 1914 with great special effects.

Our particular Georges Méliès was born in Teruel, is called Segundo de Chomón, and was a true master of cinema both from the director’s seat and in terms of technical aspects. The Spanish filmmaker participated as a director of photography and in the visual effects department of the Italian feature film "Cabiria", shaping what is considered the first "dolly shot" used in the medium with special effects, for which he used a self-made device very similar to the one he still uses today.

special effects in the cinema, cinema technological advance

6. The Power of Love a 1922 technological advance and awesome special effects.

Thinking about the background of 3D cinema invites us to think about movies like "The Wax Museum Crimes" of 1953 or "Perfect Crime" of 1954, but, long before André De Toth and Alfred Hitchcock, Nat G. Deverich and Harry K. Fairall directed "The Power of Love", the first feature film in three dimensions in history. To see it, a single projector was used that emitted an anaglyph image in green and red, and required glasses to be able to perceive the depth.

7. Bronenosets Potyomkin a technological advance of 1925 with great special effects

Rivers of ink could be written about the staging of "The Battleship Potemkin", but everything can be reduced to the fact that this masterpiece by Sergei M. Eisenstein defined the film edition as we know it today. For the story remains the legendary sequence of the Odessa staircase and those more than 1,100 shots in 77 minutes in which conflict and juxtaposition were the real protagonists.

8. The Jazz Singer a hit of the 1927 cinema and its special effects

In late 1927, Warner Bros. tried to overcome its financial problems with "El cantor de Jazz", an overwhelming success that captivated the public thanks to the unbeatable claim of being the first sound film in history, intercalating silent sequences with others with dialogue and music sung synchronized with the image, with sound recorded in set, a perfect examples of special effects. A real revolution that turned the industry upside down, both in terms of exhibition, production and performance.

9. Becky Sharp a technological advance of 1935 with awesome special effects.

The relationship between cinema and colour is almost as long as the medium itself. There are numerous precedents of experiments of the most varied dated in the first decade of the 20th century, and a good number of feature films that flirted with color until 1935, the year in which "The Vanity Fair" premiered. This feature film by Rouben Mamoulian is the first to be shot entirely using the three-strip Technicolor technique, which captured the image in three different films, one for each of the primary colours, simultaneously.

10. The Thief of Baghdad a 1940 technological advance and great special effects.

Although it may not give us that feeling, the chroma-key technique as we know it today is not, precisely, recent. " The Thief of Baghdad, "directed by Ludwig Berger, Michael Powell, Tim Whelan and William Cameron Menzies in 1940, was the first feature film to use a blue screen as a background for its characters. To achieve the desired effect, the shots were shot twice, one of them with a filter that eliminated the colored areas -green or blue- of the film and, later, were superimposed frame by frame in a composition.

special effects in the cinema, cinema technological advance

11. How the West Was Won a 1962 technological advance and awesome special effects.

The arrival of television in the 1950s put in check a film industry that saw considerably reduced attendance in the exhibition halls, and the great measure of counterattack against the so-called silly box was centered on the aspect ratio, countering the 4:3 cathodic with the panoramic format. " The conquest of the west", with its complex Cinerama technology, was the first film projected with a panoramic aspect-ratio, using three 35mm cameras that simultaneously projected through 27mm lenses on a curved screen, resulting in an aspect ratio of 2.59:1. If you pay attention, in the trailer that presides over these lines you can see the divisions between the three projections that make up the image.

12. Mary Poppins a 1964 technological advance and great special effects.

Animatronics and special effects have given us unforgettable images and creatures, from the terrifying spit of "Shark" to the endearing E.T., through the Gremlins of Joe Dante or the impressive dinosaurs of Jurassic Park. But long before all these examples, "Mary Poppins" introduced us to the first animatronic of the story: the endearing little bird that accompanied the nanny played by Julie Andrews while singing "Spoon full of Sugar".

There is some debate on the use of computer-generated images. Maybe the title sequence designed by Saul Bass for Alfred Hitchcock’s "Vertigo" was the first show in the film world, but it was with "Metal Souls" that cinema first looked at its future, being the first film in history to use two-dimensional CGI with narrative will, simulating the android’s point of view played by Yul Brynner.

13. Bound for Glory a technological advance of 1976 with awesome special effects.

Despite the previous existence of some kind of stabilizing system and specific inventions to get out of the way, before the arrival of the steadicam the only way to move the camera through the set was tied to the loose dolly and the skill and pulse of the operators. But in 1975, Garrett Brown opened up new horizons for the cinematographic narrative thanks to his steadicam, which was used for the first time in the 1976 feature film "This is My Land", in a sequence plan and great special effects that you have on these lines, operated by Brown himself and in which the camera descends from a crane to follow one of the characters of the film for a couple of minutes.

14. Young Sherlock Holmes a 1985 technological advance and great special effects.

Today we are more than used to seeing photorealistic digital characters and special effects swarming around the real world, integrated with greater or lesser fortune, in productions of all kinds, but the first feature film to do so was "The Secret of the Pyramid" by Barry Levinson. The 30 seconds that the medieval glass knight has on the screen took a long time to create the friolera of six months, and its maximum responsible was the very John Lasseter.

15. Toy Story a technological advance of 1995 with marvelous special effects.

After admiring half the world with short films such as "Luxo Jr.", "Tin Toy" or "Knick Knack", the animation studio Pixar gave birth in 1995 to the first CGI feature film in history. " Toy Story" was directed by John Lasseter over 4 years, used 300 processors to render the entire film and, in addition to displaying an excellent narrative, gave us the first computer-generated photorealistic streets.


This has been the evolution of the technological advances and special effects of great pieces of art in the cinema, from iconic short films to movies that will stay in our heart, all thanks to these two characters, the creativity made reality and technology making the impossible possible.

Read on about artistic magic in the digital age, special effects and technological advances.

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