There are some advices I could have needed when I was a kid and and some books I would have loved to read as a ten year old. Filming the Fantastic by Mark Sawicki is one of these books. And even if you are grown up already, like me, you will learn a ton out of reading this book about the practical side of visual effects.
This means: Creating visual effects in camera (while you shoot it), without having to generate 3D environments.
Don’t get me wrong, creating shots in CGI (computer generated images) has a lot of advantages. But methods like the ones illustrated in this book can safe a lot of time if you do it well (especially if you are into miniature making), because in order to create visual effects via computer generated images it takes a long learning path, including not only learning how to model your assets, but also texturing, litghting, rigging, and recreating camera behaviour (unsharp masks, shaking, lens flares, distortions…).
Sawicki illustrates how certain visual effects shots can be accomplished with some effort and a little bit of tinkering – and he does it in an easy to follow way.
The book illustrates old school stop motion effects…
…and forced perspective effects:
With Sawicki you will also learn, that lense angle / focal length look-up tables can really be your friends.
The book also explains how images were put together (composited) in the old days. And while it is an extremely interesting chapter to read, today you would do this on the computer of course. There is a great book about the theory and practical side of digital compositing which I can really recommend as well: The Art and Science of Digital Compositing by Ron Brinkmann.