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Special Effects Film Seminar

By Juliana Blatt
Staff Writer
Assistant Professor of Film Soopum Sohn and other members of the film department held a seminar about special effects during common hour on Tuesday, Sept. 19 in Kahn Hall. Sohn and his team showed the attendants the differences that special effects can play in even a small scene in a movie.
In Sohn’s unreleased lm, “Dragon’s Scroll,” the effects dramatically changed a scene that was short and simple. First, students saw the scene with special effects in which the main character touched a mirror in a public restroom and her finger caused ripples to appear. A computer-generated dragon flew from the mirror, which turned into a window to a celestial realm. The original clip showed only the girl touching her finger to the mirror and acting as if everything else had taken place around her.
Photo by Ashley Bowden Professor Soopum Sohn hosts seminar on special effects film.

The process of creating special effects starts from storyboards; the scenes are sketched and captioned before actors bring them to life. Sohn explained that he doesn’t teach anything crazy, like how to create a giant explosion in a film, but rather that the effects “should come from your idea and your vision.” Any kind of effect should have to do with storytelling, and be done with reason, according to Sohn.

Sohn teaches special effects to his students while on set to engage them through a “classroom change.” When it comes to special effects created on the computer, he added, “you have to have [a] love of it.”

Sohn has learned from generations of filmmakers, including a few from South Korea. He earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts at Chung Ang University, Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, and his Master of Fine Arts at the American Film Institute at New York University.

Sohn has held different jobs on the sets of four films. One of his first full length feature lms was “Make Yourself at Home,” which he wrote and directed. For said film, he was invited to attend the 2008 Pusan International Film Festival Gala Presentation, Oldenburg Film Festival, San Diego Asian Film Festival, and the Athens Film Festival.

Sohn’s favorite position in filmmaking depends on a couple of factors, such as the weather, time of day, and quality of actors. “If I have a good time with actors, I enjoy directing. But if I have a bad time with actors, I would prefer cinematography,” he said. Working with actors is unpredictable and cinematography is more predictable, like science and art, according to Sohn. “Directing actors can be really exciting too. Every day changes,” he said.

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