Please Explain: Movie Special Effects

Friday, April 20, 2012

Dr. Doug Roble, the Creative Director of Software at Digital Domain, the multiple Academy Award-winning visual effects studio in Venice, California, talks about the history of special effects in filmmaking and explains the art and science of creating them.   


Doug Roble

Comments [17]


this is the discussion ongoing right now (2PM, 4.20.2012) on Talk of the Nation (NPR). This program can be heard via webstream at

Apr. 20 2012 02:09 PM
Amy from Manhattan

I know this segment is about movie effects, but I've seen some similar effects (like monsters armies) on TV. How much difference is there in achieving these effects in movies & on TV?

Apr. 20 2012 01:55 PM
Jonn from BRONX

Great guest!

can the good doctor explain the technique used with the recent Tupac performance last week at Coachella?

It was reported that his company did the production/ special effects

Apr. 20 2012 01:53 PM
Elle from Brooklyn

A fascinating and well-spoken guest.

Apr. 20 2012 01:53 PM
john from NYC

Dr Roble needs a sequel on your show. Please.

Apr. 20 2012 01:53 PM
Hilary from Princeton, NJ

What are the current developments in immersive 3D? When these are written into an original script, who are the individuals in the industry at the forefront of developing and introducing new SFX technologies? The old model of a director going to look for money and then contracting the SFX seems counter-productive, given how long it takes to network scripts and directors and initial financing. Do the artists in your industry get excited and involved with original scripts enough to get the packaging together instead?

Apr. 20 2012 01:52 PM

Doctor Roble is a Old Geek Girl's rockstar. Great interview!

Apr. 20 2012 01:48 PM
John A.

Wasn't the blue skin of the "Avatar" characters chosen to help hide some problems with realistic human skin - and - when does the guest think a full human character might finally make it through a whole film?

Apr. 20 2012 01:47 PM
John from toronto

can your guest talk about software use: how much of a dialogue is there between the artists and the studio's software developers during a typical production?

Apr. 20 2012 01:45 PM

For special effects that include water, e.g., tidal waves, is CFD (computational fluid dynamics) used? If so, is a prepackaged code used?

Can I have a job? : )

Apr. 20 2012 01:44 PM
Esther from Wash hts

What a great guest! Clear, humble, enthusiastic and great at explaining the technology for those of us not in the know.

Apr. 20 2012 01:42 PM
John A.

The Mill: City Harvest "Apples" Breakdown - YouTube

CGI shown being made in your NYC subway, in a commercial many have seen...

Apr. 20 2012 01:41 PM
Capper from NYC

Can you see this threatening jobs for actors/actresses, or their pay?

Apr. 20 2012 01:39 PM
antonio from bayside

What kind of software is used? Is it expense?
I ask because the company that does the effects on fringe really does a super realistic recreation of the world trade center and I wonder how they get stuff like that done...
I thought it might be a matte painting, but there is light and all other elements that convince me otherwise....

Apr. 20 2012 01:35 PM
JT from LI

Sometimes it very obvious that computer effects were used and sometimes it's seamless. Does this come down to the effects budget, short deadlines, inexperience of the effects team, or a combination of these?

Apr. 20 2012 01:30 PM
John A. from just outside Blue Sky

How much of the CGI software that you use is available to the general public (and how much can it cost)? Is most of it kept 'secret', in your company only?

Apr. 20 2012 01:27 PM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

How are background shots, especially in urban settings, altered to reflect the landscape of a certain time period? For example: A scene that calls for 1970's Time Square or The World Trade Center?

Apr. 20 2012 01:19 PM

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