Motivated with instincts for innovation and curiosities to collaborate, Ben Bays and Deepak Chetty, both faculty in the Department of Radio-Television-Film, were willing participants when two lecturers from the College of Fine Arts sought contributions for a course titled, “Practical Special Effects.”
Bays and Chetty worked with Department of Theatre and Dance lecturers J.E. Johnson and Karen Maness to interconnect three courses. Bays taught advanced visual effects, while Chetty led a course on three-dimensional animation, both of which are seen as special effects in the subgenre of visual effects.
“We were all looking for ways to ground the student experience in other areas of the university that typically do not intersect,” Bays said. “The class seemed highly experimental and experiential, and the results came from the extraordinary collaboration.”
Practical effects are special effects produced physically and without computer-generated imagery or other digital postproduction techniques such as computer graphics. These are all manufactured “on set” and occur in a physical manner such as controlled detonations, false gunshot wounds, blank projectiles or stage fighting.
Visual effects are different because they are digitally added using computer software, animation or compositing in post-production.
“Since so much of what we do in the digital media area is pulled out of thin air, bringing this tangible physical element to it was a great opportunity,” Bays said. “We also built these physical objects with digital enhancements in mind for later so that we could enhance or augment the performance of something like a physical puppet in post-production.”