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Frequency Quarterly
First issue 1980
Based in United States
Language English

Cinefex /ˈsɪnɨfɛks/, launched in 1980, is a bimonthly journal covering visual effects in the movies. Each issue is handsomely produced, and features lengthy, detailed articles that describe the creative and technical processes behind current films, the information drawn from interviews with the effects artists and technicians involved. Each issue also features many behind-the-scenes photographs illustrating the progression of visual effects shots – from previsualization to final – as well as the execution of miniature, pyrotechnic, makeup and other related effects.

The magazine was founded by Don Shay, who alone wrote and produced the first issue, which covered the effects work in Alien and Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Earlier, Shay had written extensively on the stop-motion effects work in the original King Kong, published in the British publication Focus on Film, and had authored a definitive piece on the effects in Close Encounters of the Third Kind for Cinefantastique magazine.

A defining characteristic of Cinefex is its unusual 8"x9" configuration, a format Shay chose to enable him to reproduce film frames in a format similar to their original film aspect ratio.

The magazine was entirely reader supported for its first ten years. In 1990, advertising director Bill Lindsay launched an advertising program that enabled Shay to hire editor Jody Duncan – the publication’s head writer for several years – and, later, associate editor Joe Fordham. From 2000 to 2015, with few exceptions, Duncan and Fordham wrote the entire content of each issue, which totals 32,000 words of text. In late 2015, as the quarterly magazine transitioned into bimonthly publication, Cinefex blog editor Graham Edwards joined the team as a full-time writer.

In 2004, Don Shay received the Board of Directors Award from the Visual Effects Society for "illuminating the field of visual effects through his role as publisher of Cinefex."

Though he retains ownership of Cinefex, in 2014 Shay retired as publisher, handing the reins to his son, Gregg Shay – previously, the magazine’s creative director – and to Cinefex veteran Janine Pourroy, who currently serve as publisher and associate publisher, respectively.

A 2014 event sponsored by the Visual Effects Society and held at UCLA celebrated "36 Years of Cinefex," and featured a panel discussion with Don Shay and Jody Duncan, moderated by Matte World Digital founder Craig Barron.

That event highlighted the magazine’s definitive coverage of the most explosive and innovative era in visual effects history, a period that saw the early use of motion control technology in The Empire Strikes Back, the development of computer animation (showcased in the groundbreaking Jurassic Park), the pinnacle of performance capture techniques, as executed in Avatar, as well as advancements in hydraulics and robotics employed in practical, in-camera effects.

As larger, better-funded magazines fold, Cinefex – once described in Hollywood Reporter as ‘a niche survivor’ – will expand from quarterly to bimonthly publication beginning in 2016.

Cinefex iPad app[edit]

In 2011, Cinefex was made available for the iPad,[1] enabling users to purchase digital copies of back issues of the magazine.

Quotes about Cinefex[edit]

"The art of visual effects is to seamlessly combine what is real and what is created. Cinefex elegantly documents all the behind-the-scenes hard work that goes into making effects look effortless. For an intricate study of the science behind the 'magic,' there is no other source than Cinefex." - Stan Winston, Character Creator

"Cinefex conveys to film enthusiasts a passion for special effects once limited only to its technical artisans. Detailed visual coverage and revealing insights into the cutting edge of technology make Cinefex required reading for anyone interested in the new era of filmmaking." - George Lucas, Director/Filmmaker

"We are moving toward a time when the only limitation on a filmmaker is his or her imagination. But that will only be true if we stay abreast of the skills and technology the visual effects industry has to offer. Cinefex is the one true source. Read it to expand your vision." James Cameron, Director/Filmmaker


  1. ^ "Cinefex iPad". Cinefex. Retrieved 2015-06-11. 

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