Top Gun: Maverick’s Aerial Coordinator Shares His ‘Number 1’ Rule On Set And How Tom Cruise, Joseph Kosinski And The Studio Agreed On Practical Effects

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Top Gun: Maverick is the biggest movie of the year and a lot of the credit for that is being given to the fact that the film focused on real practical action whenever possible, that and it had Tom Cruise in it. All the Top Gun actors are actually up in the air and the fighter jet action is almost entirely real. While the movie does use digital effects when necessary, aerial coordinator Kevin LaRosa Jr. says the number one rule of the production was that they were never filming empty sky.

In major CGI heavy movies it’s not uncommon for cinematographers to literally film nothing. When everything that is going to be in the shot is CGI, then all the digital artists need is an empty frame to put the work into. This was reportedly against the rules of Top Gun: Maverick. Aerial coordinator Kevin LaRosa Jr. tells That Shelf that even when CGI was in use, it was only used to enhance something that was real. He explained…

My number 1 Top Gun: Maverick rule was: Something’s always in lens. You know? There’s some aircraft that maybe are not readily available to us in that movie. Those are F-18s that are reskinned or enhanced. But we’re never looking at blank sky. We’re never just filming CGI things. We’re always filming real, practical aviation assets flying in front of a lens. I think that the audience can tell when something is real. I think that we’ve seen a lot of other movies in our time, big, high-grossing movies that are heavy on CGI and visual effects. I think we can tell. And when we watch something like Top Gun: Maverick it feels real, it looks real, it’s visceral.

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