Image via Marvel Studios
Movies transport the audience to different places and times. They allow viewers to broaden their minds and ways of looking at the world. They are capable of making us feel deep emotions or forget our cares for a time. They are quite simply magical.
This magic looks effortless on the scene. What the audience does not see are the countless number of people, plans, and equipment that makes movie magic. Art is never easy. The seven YouTube videos on this list will help you learn how your favorite movies were shot, but be warned you will never look at them the same way again. Take a look behind the scenes to see what really happened on the sets of these seven films.
How 1917 was filmed to look like two continuous takes
1917 was directed by Sam Mendes and is loosely based on stories Mendes’ grandfather, Alfred, told about his service in World War I. In order to get the audience to feel like they too were soldiers in this war, Mendes chose to shoot the film to look like it was done in two continuous takes. This took meticulous planning and foresight. Luckily Roger Deakins served as the film’s cinematographer. This was the fourth time Deakins and Mendes had worked together. Their other collaborations include the films Jarhead, Revolutionary Road, and Skyfall. The results of this unique way of filming are a stunningly moving film. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences agreed and awarded Deakins the Oscar for Best Achievement in Cinematography in 2019.
A mix of animatronic and CGI effects on the set of Jurassic Park
Steven Spielberg’s modern classic, Jurassic Park, has stunning visual effects that mostly hold up by today’s standards. The film is based on a 1990 novel by Michael Crichton, the rights to which Universal paid $1.5 million before the book was even published. To create Jurassic Park’s impressive visual effects, a combination of actual animatronic dinosaurs and computer-generated imagery were used. A team lead by Stan Winston created the animatronic dinosaurs, such as the iconic scene when the Tyrannosaurus Rex breaks out of its enclosure. Meanwhile, Dennis Muren of Industrial Light & Magic was in charge of the CGI dinosaurs. Remember the lifelike bachiosauruses in the scene when Dr. Grant and Dr. Sattler first arrive at the park? The “veggiesauruses” were all CGI.
Set changes in Kidding
Kidding is a Showtime series and technically not a movie, but a scene in season one, episode three is so impressive it deserves a spot on this list. The show follows the character Jeff Piccirillo, played by Jim Carrey, who is a Mr. Rogers type as a beloved children’s television personality who is going through a personal tragedy. The character Shaina, played by Riki Lindhome, watches Jeff’s show Mr. Pickles’ Puppet Time while she is working to overcome her drug addiction. Jeff eventually asks Shaina out on a date. The scene from episode three shows a real time transformation of Shaina and her environment as she turns her life around. It took many crew members working together to get this masterful shot.
Forced perspective in Lord of the Rings
Based on the revered books by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings trilogy is a cinematic masterpiece directed by Peter Jackson. The Hobbit films not so much, but we digress. One of the ways Jackson and cinematographer Andrew Lesnie made the hobbits appear smaller than their human and elf counterparts was by using an innovative forced perspective technique. Previous films had used it, but they were limited to a static shot. In order to get a moving shot, dollies were used to move both the camera and the actor at the same time. The results speak for themselves.
Bullet time in The Matrix
The Matrix is a 1999 science-fiction film written and directed by Lana Wachowski and Lilly Wachowski. It’s the first in a series of films, the most recent being The Matrix Resurrections, which was released in 2021. The Matrix films are known for their visual effects and action sequences. One of the techniques they popularized and innovated was “bullet time.” Author Joshua Clover defines bullet time as “a visual analogy for privileged moments of consciousness within the Matrix.” Those scenes where the world slows down, and Neo is able to dodge bullets and do impressive backbends? That’s bullet time. In order to accomplish these shots, John Gaeta used multiple cameras which fired off seconds after each other capturing the action as it happened. This creates a slow-motion effect and looks super cool.
Superhero jumps in Marvel movies
It’s pretty fair to say that Marvel has taken over Hollywood. Ever since Iron Man was released in 2008, the franchise has been going nonstop, and the MCU has expanded to television and streaming. Marvel movies use a ton of amazing visual effects that often are added in post-production. This means that, on set, things just don’t look as cool. One comical example of this is the famous superhero jumps. When filming them, they look kind of silly. Watch the final product, and it looks epic. Enjoy this video of Thor, Black Panther, and Captain America doing their on-set jumps. We particularly loved Dr. Strange’s skipping jump.