With the advancement of computer generated animation, many effects are no longer done on set where safety and cost are priorities (though it seems CGI ends up costing just as much, if not more). I personally have always been a fan of real effects, and it's one of the reasons a movie like Star Wars, made back in the late 70s, still looks as good as it does today. A recent example is the practical effects used in the movie The Fountain, where organic fluid effects were filmed on a microscopic level to help make the film feel timeless. A new PBS Digital show created by Joe Schenkenberg (also known as Joey Shanks) gives some practical examples of visual effects that anyone can create at home on a budget.

Episode 1:

Episode Extra:

Episode 2:

Many of these effects will be used in a film Joey is making:

SCI-FLY is a space adventure short film that follows the tiny vessel "Spud" trying to allude a black hole that is engulfing the universe. A dark premise contrasted with divine imaginary. A fluctuating ride of tone and emotion. SCI-FLY will rely heavily on "in camera" visual effects using stop-motion animation & time lapse photography. CGI will be used sparingly during the shooting process.

Some of these are just downright beautiful, and when used in the right spot, they could really complement computer animation and live action. Real visual effects seem to be a lost art, but when it comes down to it, if you're creating something for a science fiction universe, practical effects will probably be much cheaper and save you time as well -- especially when you're on a budget. Obviously some of these are a little dangerous, and we would recommend that if you're going to try them, that you take extra safety precautions.

"Joey Shanks" will be producing a new episode for PBS every other Friday, and you can find all of the episodes online from the link below.

What do you guys think about the effects? Have you ever used similar effects in your own films?