Science of the Movies Will Make You #00FF00 With Geek Envy

Geek Culture

Image: The Science ChannelImage: The Science Channel

Image: The Science Channel

(This is a repost of the review from last week.)

Geeks love special effects—it’s in our blood. It’s the way things have been ever since Star Wars hit theaters and those of us alive at the time sat mesmerized by the opening shot of the Star Destroyer pursuing Princess Leia’s ship.

So I was pretty excited to take a look at The Science Channel’s new series Science of the Movies, especially when I learned that the first episode included a segment with John Dykstra, one of the pioneers of the special effects world. The show is hosted by Nar Williams, who has hosted several TV shows before and writes a geeky blog, but with whom I was unfamiliar.

Each show takes an in-depth look at a different aspect of visual effects in the movies, and it’s really fascinating. The first episode covers motion control, the technology that allows filmed scenes and effects, or several different effects, to be combined seamlessly in one frame. The episode begins with Dykstra, who was the first to use motion control for movie special effects on Star Wars in 1976, and looks at how the technology has evolved since then. In the process, Williams gets to try out a lot of really cool gadgets, which if you’re anything like me will make you incredibly envious.

That brings me to the part of the show I wasn’t crazy about: the host. He’s not bad, but he tended to distract from the content of the segments as much as he added to them. I could have done without his references to “nerdvana” (which is also part of his blog’s name), and he definitely seemed to think he’s funnier than I did. He’s not annoying enough to prevent the show from working, fortunately—I really enjoyed the premiere despite him.

I’m really looking forward to some of the upcoming episodes, particularly one looking at the effects behind Iron Man and one that includes a trip to the Jim Henson Digital Puppetry Studio.

Science of the Movies airs on Tuesdays, beginning next week tonight, at 9pm ET/PT on The Science Channel.

Wired: You get to see how some of the best special effects are created, and there are all kinds of cool gadgets involved. This is basically geek heaven.

Tired: Host Nar Williams is a bit over-the-top in eager geekiness, which gets annoying at times.

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