Special Effect: Fire shapes
Movies: The Hunger Games, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Introduction: In the movies, The Hunger Games and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix there are fire shapes. I say “shapes” because in The Hunger Games the shape is a sphere (fire ball), and in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix the shape is a snake.
The Hunger Games technique: There is already a forest fire around Katniss Everdeen, the heroine, which doesn’t look all that real. Just knowing that shooting a fireball at an actor is unlikely, I can assume that the fireballs in this scene was computer animated.
Success?: With the combination of a handheld camera and an ample amount of cuts, the fireballs look more real than the forest fire, but still seems a little bit copy-pasted. For the second fireball in particular was very quick, but showed the fireball almost hitting Katniss. However, it shows this a few times, and since the audience already knows that there was only one fireball for this bit it seems that the director chose to have several angles of this fireball, which is confusing for the viewer. I think it is successful in the sense that the audience knows that these are dangerous fireballs, but it is not in the sense of realism.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix technique: When Albus Dumbledore and Voldemort are fighting in the Ministry of Magic, Voldemort conjures a huge amount of fire, which shapes into a rearing snake, then explodes. This was certainly done with computer animation.
Success?: I think that this was done very well and convincingly, except for how nobody even gets slightly charred when the snake explodes. The snake is not actually shown in too many shots with the actual actors, which really helps, I think, for the audience to believe it, because whenever computer animation and live actors are together, the ability to juxtapose the two and determine realism is a lot easier. The actors are in enough shots, however, for the snake not to seem fake.
Conclusion: I definitely think that Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix did a better job at playing with fire than The Hunger Games, but both were done well enough for the stories to get across.