Ever wonder how those armies in Star Wars or the planets, spaceships and strange creatures that existed in those movies were created? Especially back then when special effects were still in its infancy and computer graphics didn’t exist. Many of the visuals we saw on screen were hand painted figures that were shot close up to mimic a real life big sized space ship or even a horde of soldiers. When you think about it, it’s not possible to have thousands of soldiers line up on your set for a single scene – the costs of getting them there, uniforms, props etc will take a huge cut out of your budget and it makes no financial sense.
That’s where small figures come in. Created and hand painted to emulate the character you are planning to have in your movie eliminates the need for creating a large scale prop that will not only eat up your budget but also be a waste of resources and time. That’s why many movie producers are turning to creative studios or individuals who have made a name for themselves in this field.
A prime example of a movie using small figurines and miniature props would be the famous Star Wars movies which were released in the 70’s long before computer graphics had come in. From planets to the space ships – all were created in studio using scrap airplane metal and other pieces so that the costs would stay within the meager budget.
But owning miniature versions of props or movie characters has become extremely popular with many people investing in the small lifelike dolls and figures. Some of the most popular sci-fi figurines have been the ‘Millennium Falcon’, the ship that is piloted by Han Solo and Chewbacca. Even miniature versions of the Storm Troopers, action figures of Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia and even Darth Vader have made it to the top selling list.
In fact, when the movie Star Wars was first released, the action figures of these characters became so high in demand that only empty boxes were sold with a promise to be exchanged for an actually figure later in the year. If you’re thinking that only kids buy miniatures and figures, this passion is shared by adults as well as kids.
Another movie that used hand painted models to bring science fiction to life is blade Runner. Many Sci-fi movies have futuristic cities that are not just imagined but are actually built. Ridley Scott’s movie had used many miniatures to film the 1982 classic. When movies like Star Wars and Blade Runner were made, digital effects wasn’t a common thing. Everything from buildings to even the flying car in Blade Runner was created by hand.
For example, the opening shot of the 1982 movie shows the camera panning over a futuristic endless city sprawl of Los Angeles in the year 2019 – and believe it or not, the entire cityscape was a set that was 12 feet across. Even the billowing flames erupting from the buildings were only inches high and not gigantic plumes of smoke and fire as it comes across in the movie.
As you can imagine, making those sets or figures, it is no easy task and as it can occupy full screen time in a frame or shot, it is important that the right detailing be done to that the set and the movie is as convincing as possible. We only have to look at the past to see the great ideas that have been generated from scratch and made into reality.