Greatest Visual and
Special Effects (F/X) -
Milestones in Film


1970-1974

Film Milestones in Visual and Special Effects
Film Title/Year and Description of Visual-Special Effects
Screenshots

Tiger Child (1970)

The IMAX system premiered with the showing of the first IMAX film - the 17-minute Tiger Child - at EXPO '70 Osaka, Japan. [Note: The first permanent IMAX theatre, named Cinesphere, was built in 1971 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.]

The Andromeda Strain (1971)

This science-fiction techno-thriller classic was another early feature film, possibly the first, to use advanced computerized (or optical) photographic visual effects for its time, with work by Douglas Trumbull ( 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and Silent Running (1971)), James Shourt, and Albert Whitlock (The Birds (1963)). $250,000 of the film's budget of $6.5 million was reportedly used to create the special effects.

This film contained possibly the first use of computer rendering (in the mapped view of the rotating 2-D structure of the massive, hi-tech, top secret 5-story, cylindrical underground laboratory in the Nevada desert named Project Wildfire). Biologist Dr. Jeremy Stone (Arthur Hill) turned on the 'animated' computer simulation of the "electronic diagram which rotates to afford an overall view, or it can be stopped at any section. Detailed plans of the various levels and labs are also stored in the system...."


A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Kubrick's film was the first to use Dolby technology for recording sound - the first film to be mastered with Dolby noise reduction.

 

Fritz the Cat (1972)

This was the first X-rated animated feature in Hollywood history, from writer/director Ralph Bakshi, and based on the comic books by Robert Crumb.

It was also the first independent animated film to gross more than $100 million at the box office.

The Poseidon Adventure (1972), Earthquake (1974) and The Hindenburg (1975)

All three of these films won the Special Achievement Award for Visual Effects, during the 70s era of disaster films.

The special effects of Earthquake (1974) included 'model' skyscrapers that collapsed, panoramic views of Los Angeles (matte paintings), Styrofoam concrete, and a 'miniature' to depict the crumbling Hollywood Dam.

The film's sole competitive Academy Award Oscar win was for Best Sound, involving the Sensurround audio system.



The Exorcist (1973)

This sensational, shocking horror story about devil possession and the subsequent exorcism of the demonic spirits from a young, innocent girl (of a divorced family) (Linda Blair) contained some highly memorable scenes, using various special effects techniques.

There were some truly nauseating, horrendous special effects including the 360 degree head-rotation, self-mutilation/masturbation with a crucifix, and the projectile spewing of green puke - a mixture of split-pea soup and oatmeal through a nozzle attached to the stunt double's mouth, etc.

The scene in which the words: "HELP ME" appeared on the girl's stomach were produced on a foam rubber stomach by applying a strong chemical. The shrinking of the swelling by heat guns was filmed - and then projected in reverse - to make it appear like the words were rising up through the skin.


Soylent Green (1973)

In the film, live-in lover Shirl (Leigh Taylor-Young) was briefly seen playing the coin-operated video arcade game Computer Space housed in a white unit. She laughed playfully over the present of the "toy" and was told by rich magnate William Simonson (Joseph Cotten): "I'm glad it amuses you."

This was its earliest appearance (since a similar game called Asteroids from Atari wasn't released until 1979). It predated Atari's Pong by a year. Computer Space was the first commercially-available videogame of any kind, first sold in 1971.

Westworld (1973)

This was the first significant entertainment feature film that employed the use of computer animation (2-D computer generated images), the precursor to CGI.

Full-screen raster (or bit-mapped) graphics were used in this film by computer graphics artists (at Evans and Sutherland) to produce the scenes representing the android Gunslinger (Yul Brynner) robot's infrared point-of-view (POV) or perspective.

The first use of 3-D CGI in a feature film was Westworld's sequel, Futureworld (1976).

Closed Mondays (1974)

An 11-minute long Oscar winner of the Best Animated Short Film, by co-directors Will Vinton and Bob Gardiner, this animated short was included in the theatrical release of the compilation feature film Fantastic Animation Festival (1977).

The short was the first instance of Claymation animation, using 3-D clay figures filmed with stop-motion animation.

It told of a drunken visitor viewing how objects displayed in an art museum ("Closed Mondays") came to life - and concluded with a twist - the bulbous-nosed visitor was part of the museum's statuary.

Hunger (1974) (aka La Faim)

This animated film short (11 minutes long) without dialogue from the National Film Board of Canada (and director Peter Foldes) was the first to use computer digitization to interpolate (or 'fill in') the animated action between various key cells drawn free-hand, although it had experimentally been demonstrated with his earlier film, Metadata (1971).

The film's director was the first animator to use computer animation (a computer-assisted 'key-frame animation' system) that imitated conventional cel animation.

Black and white animated illustrations appeared against a colored backdrop, with surrealistic figures that fluidly and rapidly dissolved and reshaped themselves to take new forms - an early and primitive example of morphing.

It was the first computer-animated film to be nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Short Film (Animated) category. It also won the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival that same year.



Film Milestones in Visual/Special Effects (F/X)
(chronological order by film title)
Introduction | 1880s-1890s | 1900-1905 | 1906-1920 | 1921-1929 | 1930-1939 | 1940-1949 | 1950-1959
1960-1969 | 1970-1974 | 1975-1979 | 1980-1982 | 1983-1985 | 1986-1988 | 1989-1991 | 1992-1994
1995-1996 | 1997-1998 | 1999-2000 | 2001-2002 | 2003-2005 | 2006-2007 | 2008-2009 | 2010-Present

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