Movie And Show Special Effects That Nobody Even Notices
We're getting more and more amazing visual effects work in movies these days, and much of it is trying to make Sonic the Hedgehog look less like he'd suffocate you in your sleep. But while computer effects are often as blatantly obvious as Thanos' purple pectorals, some uses of digital technology in movies and TV are downright sneaky. We're guessing that may not have even noticed that...
Watchmen -- Looking Glass' Mask was Often a Digital Creation
One of the most memorable costumed characters in HBO's Watchmen series was Looking Glass, the police interrogator who basically looked if Spider-Man had been bitten by a radioactive aluminum foil salesman.
Of course a lot of superhero costumes would be somewhat impractical in the real world; Wonder Woman might choose something other than a mini-skirt to wear while battling evil, and it's doubtful that Superman would want his greatest foes staring at the outline of his junk in tight red briefs. Not unlike the original Watchmen's Rorschach, Looking Glass has no real way to see properly. So for many of his scenes, Looking Glass' mask was computer-generated.
The production had "five different masks", some with "a special print that would aid with motion capture and tracking" and some were just green spandex. They did have one made of a metallic fabric that looked similar to the finished product. The visual effects route also meant that the reflections in the mask could be created digitally so we wouldn't see, say, Dr. Manhattan grabbing a bagel at the craft service table.
Knives Out -- The Lights Were Shaped Like Optical Illusions
Rian Johnson's Knives Out, the hit murder mystery/terrible adaptation of a Radiohead song featured several characters wearing glasses, which is how you know it's a smart movie. Rather than hiring Industrial Light & Magic to digitally remove any pesky reflections (or, come to think of it, simply pop the lenses out) key grip Matt Mania created elaborate lighting diffusers to match the characters' surroundings. That way, inside of a giant lightbulb, the reflections in Jamie Lee Curtis' glasses just looked like the windows in the Thrombey estate:
For a scene where Daniel Craig wore a set of specs, they created a forced perspective replica of the hospital's windows.
All of which is ingenious, impressive, but probably could have been avoided with three or four lines of dialogue about LASIK surgery.
Avengers: Endgame -- Captain America's Helmet was CGI When He Fought Himself
The Avengers movies use a ton of visual effects, otherwise we wouldn't have the Hulk, Tony Stark's Iron Man suit, or the ability to trick people into thinking Jeremy Renner looks cool. The recent Avengers: Endgame was chock full of big-budget effects, but one you might not have noticed one that was created purely to fix a screw-up. In a memorable scene Captain America has to fight himself, either as a potent metaphor for modern political polarization, or because it just looked super-cool.
While the movie's multiple Chrises were confusing enough, originally in this scene both Caps were helmet-less. Which meant audiences had no idea who to root for.
So in order to clear-up which Steve Rogers was which, the filmmakers CGI'd a helmet on to one of them. And because the field of digital hat technology is so advanced, no one was the wiser.
Parasite -- There Was No Second Floor On That (Fake) House
One of the most memorable elements of the Oscar-winning Parasite is the luxurious Kim residence, the disgustingly beautiful house in which the Park family end up working. Instead of contriving an elaborate con to trick some rich dopes into letting the movie film there, director Bong Joon-ho had the house "built from scratch". So the lighting would look natural, the entire set was built outdoors.
Despite the fact that there are no scenes in Parasite in which the Parks team-up to battle velociraptors "more than a third of the movie contains some sort of VFX." A lot of those involve the house itself, which, in reality, had no second floor.
The interiors were shot on a soundstage, and for exteriors, the top floor was just a mass of blue that wouldn't look out of place in that terrible Smurf village.
Game of Thrones -- Missandei's Death was Shot on a Soundstage
In the final season of Game of Thrones (SPOILERS for people who were holding out for the fan remake) Daenerys' closest pal Missandei is brutally executed right in front of her eyes -- which is awful, but also spared her the indignity of appearing in those last few clunky episodes. Even though half the actors are supposed to be atop the gates of King's Landing, the production built an 8 foot tall replica of the gate next to the full-sized version so the actors could actually hear each other.
As for the actual death, they couldn't shoot that part on location because it would have been extremely "visible" to nearby gawkers. So in order to preserve the twist, Missandei's beheading was filmed separately on a soundstage, where presumably they murdered the crew afterward to further protect plot leaks.
After filming Missandei next to Queen Cers-- someone who vaguely resembles Queen Cersei, they simply copied and pasted Missandei into the final scene.
Mindhunter Even CGIs the Greenery
Acclaimed director David Fincher is known for his stealthy use of computer effects in movies; from digital blood to whatever effects wizardry they used to erase all the jars of urine on the set of Zodiac. His Netflix series Mindhunter, about the FBI's initial research into serial killers, is no exception. Even for a scene with a bunch of old TVs in a department store window, they just created that image on a computer which is apparently easier than tracking down a handful of antique televisions.
And the show even CGIs the natural environment for mood and accuracy, whether that's adding some trees--
Or altering the leaves to make them more autumnal--
They even make the lawns more true to the weather conditions present during the real-life murders. Because the grass is always greener on the other side, until you realize there's a serial killer lurking in the bushes.
Gemini Man Didn't De-age Will Smith, it Recreated Him
Since Will Smith blockbusters have been struggling at the box office as of late, some Hollywood genius concluded that the best way to fix to that problem was ... two Will Smiths! That didn't exactly pan out. While you might assume Gemini Man is about a dude who's super-into astrology, it's actually the story of an aging hit-man forced to battle a younger clone of himself.
It's pretty obvious that visual effects were involved, but you may be surprised by the extent of them. While it sure seemed like they simply de-aged Smith's face, as they did with Samuel L. Jackson in Captain Marvel and the positively ancient cast of The Irishman, that's not actually the case. Because Gemini Man was shot in an unusually high frame-rate (that hardly any theatres were actually able to employ) the de-aging technology available wasn't quite up to snuff. So they had to create a fully computer generated-version of Will Smith. Smith's process was basically the same as performing Jar Jar Binks or Thanos; Smith acted out scenes in a motion capture suit, then was digitally removed and replaced by a CGI doppelganger.
Yes they created "one of the most convincing CGI humans ever put on film" for some dopey sci-fi flick most people avoided like a generic action-filled plague.
Since the movie bombed, perhaps the filmmakers would consider recouping their losses with The New Adventures of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air?
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