Always Back to Cinefex

As I start diving back into writing my book, I've populated my book stack next to the bed with back issues of CInefex magazine. I started reading CInefex at the tender age of eleven, when I picked up issue #2 because it was a magazine with The Empire Strikes Back on the cover. In 1980 I was begging my parents to buy any and all magazines with The Empire Strikes Back on the cover. I bought and kept every subsequent issue. I have a few holes in my library, but it's amazingly complete.

Unfortunately, Cinefex is not quite the magazine it used to be. Throughout the 80s, each quarterly issue concentrated on the effects of one or two movies and was not afraid to get very technical in its descriptions of advances in optical compositing or miniature construction.

Back then, there were only a handful of big effects-driven films a year to report on. These days, in order not to exclude anyone, Cinefex often reports on five or six films in each issue, and often the short articles that often feel like they might as well simply read: "So, they used computers to do the effects." Needless to say, I'm enjoying cracking open the vintage issues.

For my current research, I'm starting with issue #7, which is entirely dedicated to Willis O'Brien and has some of the best information on the effects in King Kong, Son of Kong and Mighty Joe Young.

Found some great material for my chapter on the frequent inability of on-set puppets to live up to the expressive range of stop-motion or CG creatures that are intercut or share the screen with them. The full-sized Kong s great, but he won't make you cry. The next Cinefex issue on the stack has an article on Little Shop of Horrors, which is the stunning exception to the rule about weak puppet performances. Of course, they wrung a bit more fidelity out of Audrey II's performance by undercranking the camera…but I'm getting ahead of myself!

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