We've come to expect rather a lot from big screen blockbusters and our favourite fantasy-based TV shows. If the special effects don’t muster up then the movie or show in question is considered quite simply an epic fail! But did you know how much work goes on behind the scenes to create such legendary shots? Quite a lot actually...
1 The Walking Dead
You might have thought that AMC’s The Walking Dead just needed a few groaning, heavily made up extras to become the brilliant apocalyptic show it is. In reality it’s rather difficult to find desolate cityscapes in our overpopulated world. So the show’s creators had to create an illusionary world wrecked by zombies.
It would be difficult to imagine filmmakers making scale models of monsters and robots like Optimus Prime. That’s why they make them on a computer...
3 Black Swan
Natalie Portman made for a terribly frightening black swan in the Oscar-winning movie of the same name. None of this would’ve been possible without the use of visual effects of course. In the final scene we see Portman metamorphose into a dark creature, sprouting feathers from her arms. This was achieved using motion tracking.
4 Tron Legacy
Retro computer game inspired movie Tron Legacy is characterised by its striking streaks of coloured lighting. This along with its huge expanses of arena space are computer generated.
This British film has been hailed as the best ever as far as visual effects go. Anyone who has seen the film will know that the astronomical space setting would be nothing without the visual effects that took years and millions of pounds to complete. Despite the film starring very real actors, Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, 80% of it is CGI. Our own motion control operator has worked with the director, Alfonso Curan, on Children of Men, which was Alfonso's early foray into the world of VFX.
6 Alice in Wonderland
With a director like Tim Burton on board, the Alice remake was never going to be any less than fantastically fantastical. And not only did they have to make Wonderland a reality but its beloved inhabitants too. The before shot below looks a lot more like the scene where Mike TV gets split into a 1000 pieces from Willy Wonka than a scene from Alice in Wonderland!
7 Grey’s Anatomy
It might seem surprising that straight-up reality-based dramas would also make use of visual effects like green screen. But oddly they do. While the Grey’s cast use real animal guts as props, apparently panoramic views of the Seattle skyline have to be inserted afterwards...
Films like this have come a long way since their original counterparts where they used what looks like children’s toys to portray threatening monsters.
9 The Hunger Games
The scenes that feature the Gamemakers fiddling around with the virtual yet very deadly tools at their disposal are genius. It adds to the overarching concept of The Hunger Games in that these individuals are able to impose a brutal attack on the tributes with a nonchalant flick of the wrist. As you can see though, filming merely involved a few people tapping around on a flat green table. Amazing isn’t it?
300 of course made exceptional use of visual effects to create its unique, stylised, comic-book-like look. This added to the fact that the plot is based on an ancient epic tale makes for stunning sequences created using visual effects.
With all of this in mind just imagine what your next advert would look like with the help of a little green screen magic. Maybe something like this...
This Australian TV Advert was shot on our own Green screen stage at Meadows Farm Studios using Chromakeying, motion control, motion capture and CGI visual effects. The time lapse video below also helps show how a simple set can be completely transformed into a CGI environment.