The age of computer effects and digital movie universes is upon us, but the average moviegoer might not realize just how much of the experience is faked, or modified. With that in mind, we’re giving another dose of CGI trivia in the latest edition of Screen Rant’s Know Your Movies: 20 Movies Scenes Before and After CGI.
The scene in which Leonardo DiCaprio’s character is attacked by a bear made headlines fast, but the whole event seems a lot less frightening when you get a look at who played the bear: along with the blue bodysuit and bear helmet to complete the look.
Peter Jackson relied on forced perspective and camera tricks for the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but for The Hobbit, it was just green screen used to put full-sized humans beside half-pint Hobbits and dwarves.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
George Lucas and his team practically invented CGI with the original Star Wars, and there’s no better evidence of how far it’s come than the newest episode, relying on a massive amount of green screen action in almost every scene.
Man of Steel
The physics-bending technology of the planet Krypton was obviously the work of CG, but so was the armor worn by General Zod – a full size suit was never even constructed.
Guardians of the Galaxy
Although the walking tree, Groot, was animated from scratch, the furriest Guardian was filmed on set, played by Sean Gunn. Which casts the movie’s sweeter moments in a whole new light.
Mad Max: Fury Road
George Miller may have delivered the most gritty, practical action movie in years, but fans never realized that most of the actual setting was a CG creation…. and that even the stunts were mostly pulled off when the vehicles weren’t moving.
Slicing off limbs and a man made of metal are only possible through CG, but even Deadpool‘s more lighthearted antics were obviously a blast on the set – even if they lacked the explosions and flight.
Fans might dream of owning an Iron Man suit for themselves, but so does Robert Downey, Jr. – for most of the armored action, it’s red pyjamas and some mocap sensors, which take a little bit out of the cool factor.
Audiences had enough trouble wrapping their brains around dream-stealing, so they never stopped to wonder how the actors navigated the changing space – old fashioned tricks and CG were the real answer.
Everyone knew that it couldn’t have been filmed in space, but few would realize that almost all of Gravity was CGI – the stars of the film only had partial suits and a few white boxes to work with for most of the production.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Mutant turtle martial artists could never exist in the real world, but the animators relied on the actor’s real performances and personalities, using their looks and mannerisms to make each turtle unique.
Not every special effect in the Twilight series was successful, but the massive werewolves were pretty impressive. Until you realize that Taylor Lautner played his wolf form on set, letting his co-star lovingly stroke his very-human head. Good luck forgetting that.
The Life of Pi
The stunning visuals made this adaptation unforgettable – that, and the tiger sharing a single boat with the movie’s hero. Even more impressive since it was filmed in a pool with only a stuffed blue bag playing a Bengal tiger.
Everything aside from the actors was make believe in James Cameron’s 3D game-changer, but the motion capture footage reveals just how much the Na’vi cast gave the animators to work with – with Zoe Saldana the best among them.
It’s easy to overlook the people who create CG characters – or even the people who play them. Will Smith took the spotlight of I, Robot, but audiences might not even realize that Firefly alum Alan Tudyk played the star robot, Sonny, on set every day.
X-Men: Days of Future Past
Quicksilver’s superspeed sequence was the standout moment of this time-bending adventure, but the reality was were very different. It looked great on film, which probably made the days spent blasting the actor with an air cannon in front of green screen seem worth it in the end.
The Empire Strikes Back
Darth Vader slicing off Luke Skywalker’s hand before revealing he’s the boy’s father is one of cinema’s greatest moments, but when you see the mattresses laid out underneath the set, it starts to seem a bit less devastating.
Dawn of The Planet of the Apes
Andy Serkis stole the show with help from computer animators as the ape leader Caesar, along with an entire cast of human performers supplying the foundation for the CG artists – no matter how different the species might be.
Pirates of the Caribbean
Jack Sparrow battled the supernatural in several forms, but Davy Jones takes the cake. But he and his crew are a lot less intimidating in their grey bodysuits and smudged make-up.
Captain America: The First Avenger
It’s still staggering to see how well the effects team made star Chris Evans seem sickly small before his super-soldier experiment. Filming Evans in each scene, then his small-scale double Leander Deeny, eventually merging the two together. The process is simple enough, but even today, it’s hard to believe they pulled it off so perfectly.
Those are the CG tricks and masterpieces hiding behind the spectacle of some of our favorite films, but what about yours? Let us know in the comments, and remember to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more videos like this one!