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Reel Timeline

Reel Timeline

Launch Tool

The Reel Timeline is a truly "special" NOVA timeline covering the development of special effects in movies from the 1890s to the 1990s. The timeline includes many behind-the-scenes facts and stories about special effects in some of the biggest movies in history, and helps reveal the "science" behind many of the effects. The site allows you to create their own special effects in the "Attack of the 50-Foot Chicken." A step-by-step explanation is provided of "matte" effects, so that you can see how a giant chicken is plopped down in the middle of a downtown scene.


For Educators

This Shockwave-based activity helps to demystify special effects in movies. A glossary is also available to define key terms. Students learn about the role of color, light, and form in creating movie illusions. This resource can be used to complement lessons on scale and on the nervous system and the senses. The resource might be particularly helpful when teaching a unit on the brain, the eye, and how the brain interprets messages from the eye.

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