Digital Storytelling: The Narrative Power of Visual Effects in Film

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Overview

Computer-generated effects are often blamed for bad Hollywood movies. Yet when a critic complains that "technology swamps storytelling" (in a review of Van Helsing, calling it "an example of everything that is wrong with Hollywood computer-generated effects movies"), it says more about the weakness of the story than the strength of the technology. In Digital Storytelling, ShiloMcClean shows how digital visual effects can be a tool of storytelling in film, adding narrative power as do sound, color, and "experimental" camera angles—other innovative film technologies that were once criticized for being distractions from the story. It is time, she says, to rethink the function of digital visual effects.Effects artists say—contrary to the critics—that effects always derive from story. Digital effects are a part of production, not post-production; they are becoming part of the story development process. Digital Storytelling is grounded in filmmaking, the scriptwriting process in particular. McClean considers crucial questions about digital visual effects— whether they undermine classical storytelling structure, if they always call attention to themselves, whether their use is limited to certain genres—and looks at contemporary films (including a chapter-long analysis of Steven Spielberg's use of computer-generated effects) and contemporary film theory to find the answers. McClean argues that to consider digital visual effects as simply contributing the "wow" factor underestimates them. They are, she writes, the legitimate inheritors of film storycraft.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Shilo T. McClean, in her Digital Storytelling: The Narrative Power ofVisual Effects in Film, agrees with much of what we have claimed about the survival of classical filmmaking... She builds upon our case by examining systematically and imaginatively the question of whether digital special effects support narrative interest. McClean convincingly demonstrates that DVFx (digital visual effects), as she terms them, are used in an enormous variety of ways, and most of these help to tell classically constructed stories.... McClean asks questions of aesthetic import, and she treats films as artworks — some good, some bad, but all to be taken seriously as evidence for her case." Kristin Thompson David Bordwell'sWebsite on Cinema
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780262633697
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • Publication date: 10/31/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.60 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Shilo T. McClean is a consultant in storybuilding and digital visual effects. She has worked as a writer, producer, director, and script editor.

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