Filmmaking seems to keep getting easier and easier on the surface-level. It appears like all a director has to do is throw an actor in front of a green screen with a MoCap suit on, shoot the scene, yell cut, then turn over all the footage to the computer guys to have them add in the backgrounds, animation, explosions, or whatever the movie needs. Then it's all done and ready for movie goers to watch and critique.

But there are times, even in today's computer-heavy age, that a production team rolls up their sleeves and does things in the old school, slow, painstaking way to achieve the special effect(s) that the movie needs. This amount of time and care needs to be shared and celebrated. So we at Cracked shall do so!

Here are 26 special effects that were done with practical means, even though you'd swear it was CGI instead.


The crew of First Man created an outdoor lunar surface set in a quarry. Complete with fake sunlight that gave them sunburn. Light bulbs that can re-cr

26 Movie Effects That Look Like CGI, But Nope

Quentin Tarantino wanted to recreate the past for Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. So his team rebuilt it, using miniatures. Tarantino's not a fan of CG

The characters got thrown around in 2012. And SO did the actors. Not only did filmmakers create a sinking ship scene by rotating the whole set, they f

You'd think Dejarik would be CG by The Force Awakens. It's not. It's still stop-action animation. The original props had deteriorated, though, SO spec

Cabin In The Woods featured some truly frightening monsters. And they weren't CGI. Joss Whedon and director Drew Goddard decided they wanted a sequenc

26 Movie Effects That Look Like CGI, But Nope

Charlie And The Chocolate Factory has nut-sorting squirrels. Those are real, live, trained squirrels. It took months to train the squirrels to sort nu

Escape From New York showed a wireframe view of the city. AOSE VTEW And it was done with tape and a black light. The filmmakers wanted to create a hig

26 Movie Effects That Look Like CGI, But Nope

In Evan Almighty, God asks Evan to build an ark. So the crew built a full-sized ark. The wooden monstrosity was constructed to be 250 feet long, 80 fe

Remember how digital the original Tron looked? That was achieved with practical effects. It was 1982, and the CGI it would take to render the high-tec

26 Movie Effects That Look Like CGI, But Nope

In 28 Days Later, Murphy wanders through a totally empty London. That wasn't a set. It was actually London. The filmmakers got the scene by shooting i

26 Movie Effects That Look Like CGI, But Nope

The Lord of the Rings trilogy mixed hobbits, dwarves, and humans. With forced perspective. Making normal-sized actors look vastly different in size wa

In Iron Man 3, several people get sucked out of Air Force One. The scene was shot in midair with skydivers. The travelers freefalling in midair are ac

26 Movie Effects That Look Like CGI, But Nope

The raptors in Jurassic Park weren't CGI. Those were men in costumes. John Rosengrant was the main raptor suit performer. To make his movements convin

26 Movie Effects That Look Like CGI, But Nope

26 Movie Effects That Look Like CGI, But Nope

2019 Dafoe vehicle The Lighthouse was shot, unsurprisingly, in a lighthouse. Not a real one. A full-sized fake built from scratch. It was 70 feet tall

Remember the wormhole scene in Interstellar? That was a physical set. The Tesseract, an artificial construct that depicts time as a physical dimension

26 Movie Effects That Look Like CGI, But Nope

Midsommar included a ull-smashing scene that took a few takes. POwH So the team created a self- imploding mechanical skull. The crew needed a solution

Doctor Sleep takes us back to the Overlook hotel from Kubrick's The Shining. Literally. They rebuilt it using Stanley Kubrick's blueprints. Instead of

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