People today take visual effects for granted, and in some ways, that's a huge compliment to the remarkable artists who continue to push one of the most magical parts of filmmaking forward, year after year.
What I love most about visual effects is, oddly, not the way it has opened up the types of stories that can be told on film. It's the way the techniques have evolved, and the way even now people mix the physical, the digital, the optical in order to find the best way to sell a particular illusion.
There is a real paucity of imagination sometimes, even when filmmakers are shown just how powerful and versatile these tools can be. Think of how similar most movies for Hollywood events look these days. One of the reasons I find the Independence Day: Resurgence trailer particularly boring is because it just looks like a superset of destruction shots from the last twenty years of movies. Part of what made the first Independence Day such a monster hit when it came out was that shot of the White House being destroyed. Now we barely register when we see something that's exponentially more photo-realistic because of over-exposure.
I'm far more impressed by invisible effects these days, and I am still regularly startled by things that simply should not be possible, but that look like they're not only real, but mundane.
I don't run many of these super-cut videos, but this one in particular does a pretty great job of summing up just how far the art of movie magic has come in a little bit under ten minutes. You'll see that they've given the award for people creating the fantastic as often as they've given it to people simply trying to reproduce reality.
And finally, god bless these guys for the clip they used for the 1977 Star Wars. Unretouched, it is a reminder of what those effects looked like at the point they were actually done, before they were retouched.
Thanks to Burger Fiction for the time and effort they put into this one. We'll see who gets added to the list on Sunday night when the 88th Academy Awards take place.