Q&A with Till Bamberg, author of The Magic of Visuals

magic of visuals q&a till bamberg

Q&A with Till Bamberg, author of The Magic of Visuals

Q) Dear Mr. Bamberg. Your book THE MAGIC OF VISUALS was recently published by BearManor. Before we get to the book: Could you please introduce yourself briefly?
A) My name is Till Bamberg and I am one of the authors of the book DIE ALB- TRAUMFABRIK (The Nightmare factory). There my colleagues and I explored the question of how much filmmakers give free rein to their fears in films and how they use their creativity to create fear. For this purpose I conducted interviews with Steve Johnson, Steve Wang, Jack Sholder, Dave Elsey, Rick Lazarinni and others.
In addition, my hobby has already allowed me to contribute to publications of Wicked Vision Distribution here in Germany. For example with a special about the effects of the movie THE RIFT, where I got in contact with the legendary Colin Arthur. I also recently shot two documentaries on the VFX and models for the film SPACE TRUCKERS for Wicked Vision. Here I worked together with Paul Gentry and Steve Howarth. Or an exklusive interview with Ted Nicoleau for TERRORVISION.
I have a homepage called "Science Fiction Movies and Practical Effects" with a corresponding page on Facebook with 21.000 followers. Together with a friend of mine I am also co-founder of a homepage and Facebook page called "Monsters.Mummies.Mutations". We now have a huge reach and many interactions with like-minded people.
I have also done interviews with, among others, Craig Safan, William Sandell, Chris Walas, John Richardson, John McNaughton, Gino Acevedo, Rob and Barney Burman, Tom Holland, Brian Johnson, Nick Allder, Volker Engel, Kevin O´Connell or Mark Rolston to name a few.
When I´m not working on a film, I live in a quiet town in northern Germany with my wife and my two sons. In real life I´m a Special education teacher for children with a physical and mental impairment.

Q) You mentioned that you have a homepage and its page called "Science Fiction Movies and Practical Effects". What exactly is that about?
A) Well, I've always been a big fan of technical things. I grew up in a village and there you always had to help yourself or help others when something didn't work right. And later, in my teenage years (that was the 90s), I started to be interested in movies. Especially films from the fantastic area were very appealing to me. And I was always fascinated by what you saw in such movies. And so I started to be interested in the technology behind it. Much later, when life was going well, I started to expand my hobby, which I had never given up. And so I decided to set up a German language site dedicated to technology in film. Not a film science site. But it should be entertaining and bring many faces, which are otherwise hardly mentioned, closer to people who are interested in film. And of course the technology.

Q) Were there films that particularly fascinated you? Where you said, "Great! How did they do that?"
A) Definitely. When I was nine years old I saw THE THING (1982) by John Carpenter. A good introduction for a young lad, right? Those masks and effects blew me away. Later came ALIEN (1979) and ALIENS (1986), which left their mark on me to this day. By the way, I'm immensely proud that Dennis and Robert Skotak collaborated on the book. A great honor! It's like meeting your idols virtually. Then in 1991 I saw STAR TREK IV and was blown away as well. In the same year also TREMORS. And then it went steadily uphill with the movie watching.

Q) Since you just mentioned idols. Besides the Skotak brothers, are there any other people who have influenced you?
A) What do you mean by influenced? I'm not in the film business professionally. But there are indeed many whose work I appreciate immensely. These artists bring life to the film. Besides the artists who are in the book, I could count many: Ray Harryhausen, of course. Matthew Yuricich, Arnold Gillespie, Adrian Biddle, Stan Winston, Thelma Schoonmaker, James Horner, Joey Orosco and many more. There are just too many great people.

Q) You have already collaborated on a book. How did that come about and what was the book about?
A) DIE ALP-TRAUMFABRIK is about whether and how artists in film process their fears in their work. I contributed to this book as a guest author. The main part was written by my two colleagues. For example, I contacted Steve Johnson and did an interview with him. That was kind of cool, because we did video telephony and that was incredibly cool.

Q) Then how did you get the idea to write a book on your own?
A) That was due to Covid-19. Here in Germany, in the first lockdown, you were only allowed to put your kids in kindergarten if one of the two parents worked in so-called "system-relevant professions." Since this is only me at home, I had to watch my sons for almost half a year. On the side, I also had to teach my students online. That was not easy. As a compensation I started to collect ideas what I could make out of my hobby. The result is now in book form.

Q) How long did it take for the book to be published?
A) It took almost three years. I guess that's a pretty short period of time to publish a book. It was presented to several publishers and BearManor won the bid. And I am very happy about that.

Q) How did you get all the outstanding artists who are involved in your book?
A) Through my hobby. Through my site and my homepage I knew some artists already. And I asked them if they would like to participate in this project. Not a single one I asked said "no". All gave immediately the acceptance. And I am very proud of that. It shows that such artists are happy that there are many people who appreciate their work.
And I didn't "walk in the door" as they say here. It takes research, patience and respect for the artist.

Q) You have quite a range of artists. Why didn't you focus on one particular area, like special make-up effects?
A) Because a film, is an interaction of all the people involved. Be it the boom operator or the main cameraman. It doesn't matter. Everyone has to be involved so that we can be in a different world for two hours.

Q) Can you give us an example?
A) Sure. Let's just take the scene from ALIENS where Ripley sees the Alien Queen for the first time. Without the interaction of the animatronics, the texture painters, the mechanics, the concept designers, the editors and so on, that scene wouldn't have looked so great. And then, of course, there's the sound. A lot of things bring success. And it's a team effort, not just one or two people.

Q) Thank you for this little interview and I wish you much success with your book.
A) Thank you very much. I hope readers enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

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