Sheigh Crabtree gets a piece printed in the Los Angeles Times about how performing in Mary Poppins sparked Dick Van Dyke’s interest in special effects, which is still a hobby of his over four decades later.
After starring in 1968’s "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang," in which he drove a flying car thanks to the magic of green-screen technology, Van Dyke bought a used Ultimatte system — a pre-digital device that allowed visual-effects pros to do green-screen shots photochemically — and set it up at his house. He played around with it a bit, and then about 15 years ago a friend recommended that he buy an Amiga Toaster, one of the earliest desktop computer-animating systems.
"You could take 3-D objects and figures and photograph a background and fill it in and animate," Van Dyke recalls. "In those days, if you had 15 frames to render it took all weekend. It was very, very primitive but I just got hooked on it."
The whole piece is worth a read, detailing how Van Dyke’s interest continues today, and how he’d like to do SFX work in the future. Isn’t it refreshing to read about this kind of celebrity hobby instead of about their flaws and bad decisions?