The YouTube channel Insider published an interesting behind-the-scenes look at eight different tricks and techniques used in Hollywood and other movie and video productions to create amazing and sometimes unbelievable effects.
Holywood has many tricks for creating visuals that are impossible in real life. These days a lot of those include some level of CGI but there is still room for good old practical effects (and in some cases combinations of both). The following are 8 different tricks/tools and techniques used to create
In this “trick” an actor switch places with (typically) a stunt who performs a complex or dangerous move and then the view seamlessly returns to the actor. This is usually accomplished by using some sort of a cover that hides the actor or stuntman/woman while they switch places.
This tool is used when actors need to perform what looks like flight in mid-air, it is done over a blue or green background, and green/blue operators use a huge fork-like instrument with a steering wheel on the other end to move the actor or actress in the air. This device does not remove the need for wires which are still used for flight with more complex motion.
When you need to create what looks like an actor or actress being thrown up abruptly a technique called ratchet pull is often used. This is done via wires and a piston which pull the wires and actor quickly back, forward or upwards. This can be very dangerous of course and stunts are usually used with a lot of protective gear and other precautions.
Throwing a person through glass is more complicated than you might think. The glass used for stunts is not ordinary glass (which is extremely dangerous) but tempered glass that shatters into bits that are not dangerous. However, this glass is hard to break and so you need to use small explosives which are precisely timed to crack the glass just as the stunt person (or brave actor) is thrown through it.
You can create impossible shots (or extremely dangerous ones) by shooting in the same place from the same camera position two different scenes and combining them in post. This way for example you can show an actor getting hit by a car when no actual car is hitting the actor (these are two different scenes shot from the same position).
This cool trick involves actors running at superhuman speeds. While you can create this using special effects another way of getting the same result is by a device called a magic carpet. This involves a long fabric connected to a fast-moving car on which the actor is running giving the impression that he or she is running significantly faster than they are.
This trick only works on flat surfaces. On rough terrain, you might need to use a hanging wire system to pull the actor or actress forward while they run.
We covered the art of car rigs on a different video here on LensVid a while ago (see here), here is part of what we mentioned there: “Maybe one of the most important technological innovations in car chase movies came from the movie Seabiscuit (which actually had no car chases at all) where a special rig with a car on top was built. In later movies, a stunt driver sitting on the front of this rig with the car in the back was driving the whole thing and cameras could be safely mounted all over the car in the back. More importantly, the actor could mimic the turns made by the stunt driver (using radio communication) making the whole scene look more realistic.”.
Full fire burn
A lot of burning people in movies are created using CGI but fire is still hard to recreate in a convincing way. This is why stuntmen and women are used on set and literally burned alive in a safe way.
This involves 3 layers of fire protective undergarments soaked in a special liquid called zel jel. More layers and more zel jel is used on top of those. Even with all these precautions a stunt person can’t be physically inside fire for more than 15 seconds and can not breathe while he is burning so as to not burn his throat and lungs.
As always, you can find many more behind-the-scenes videos on the BTS section here on LensVid as well as previous videos published by Insider about the behind-the-scenes look of making Hollywood movies.