CFP: [Film] The Science of Special Effects (5/1/08; 10/30-11/2/08)

full name / name of organization: 
Cynthia Miller
contact email:

Call for Papers
“The ‘Science’ of Special Effects: Aesthetic Approaches to Industry” Area
2008 Film & History Conference
Film & Science: Fictions, Documentaries, and Beyond
October 30-November 2, 2008
Chicago, Illinois
Second-Round Deadline: May 1, 2008

AREA: The “Science” of Special Effects: Aesthetic Approaches to Industry

This area examines the industrial, technological, theoretical, and
aesthetic questions surrounding special-effects technologies. Presenters
may investigate historical changes in special and visual effects, as in
the gradual switch from physical to digital applications; they may focus
on the use of visual effects in film or television texts that do not fit
into typically spectacle-driven genres (i.e., effects in drama, comedy,
and musical narratives instead of in action-adventure, science fiction,
or fantasy); they may consider the theoretical implications of
special/visual effects and technology on texts; or they may concentrate
on neglected historical and aesthetic values of effects development.

Possible papers or panels might include the following:

-- An investigation of the terms “Special Effect” and “Visual Effect,”
what they constitute, and how their definitions have been delineated and
complicated by changing technologies.

-- Special/visual effects “stars” such as (Keynote Speaker) Stan Winston,
Douglas Trumbull, or Richard Edlund, and their impact on the construction
and application of visual effects images for mainstream/non-mainstream

-- The changing relationship between visual effects technologies and pre-
production, i.e. looking at “previz,” at the development of
films “around” their effects sequences, or at the use of physical
materials such as maquettes as templates for eventual CG elements.

-- How contemporary visual-effects practitioners negotiate and
incorporate real world “physics” into their design of digital characters
(“synthespians”) and environments.

-- How visual effects contribute to the formation of
complete “environments” on screen, how they are incorporated into
narratives, and how meaning is affected when a physical environment is
entirely fabricated.

--The implementation of special/visual effects by costume and motion-
capture “artists” and actors, and how studies of these practices can
offer insight into classic and contemporary working relationships between
effects practitioners, actors and crew.

-- The Visual Effects Society and its impact on the industry and
filmmaking throughout the organization’s history.

-- How directors or other creative personalities use physical and digital
effects in their projects (e.g., Robert Zemeckis’ application of digital
technologies or Guillermo Del Toro’s proclaimed interest in keeping a
50/50 balance between physical and digital effects).

Please send your 200-word proposal by May 1, 2008 to the area chairs:

Michael S. Duffy, Bob Rehak, Area Chairs, “The ‘Science’ of Special

Panel proposals for up to four presenters are also welcome, but each
presenter must submit his or her own paper proposal. Deadline for
proposals: May 1, 2008.

This area, comprising multiple panels, is a part of the 2008 biennial
Film & History Conference, sponsored by The Center for the Study of Film
and History. Speakers will include founder John O’Connor and editor Peter
C. Rollins (in a ceremony to celebrate the transfer to the University of
Wisconsin Oshkosh); Wheeler Winston Dixon, author of Visions of the
Apocalypse, Disaster and Memory, and Lost in the Fifties: Recovering
Phantom Hollywood; Sidney Perkowitz, Charles Howard Candler Professor of
Physics at Emory University and author of Hollywood Science: Movies,
Science, & the End of the World; and special-effects legend Stan Winston,
our Keynote Speaker. For updates and registration information about the
upcoming meeting, see the Film & History website

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Received on Tue Mar 25 2008 - 16:24:55 EST

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