Here at The Filmsmith we have a great love for all the hours that go into practical special effects, those pieces of wizardry that aren’t created by computer animators. These guys have to battle the restrictions of the real world (time, space, gravity) in order to do their job well, because when they do, you feel the term movie magic. So here are some of the highlights from Cracked’s, “8 Special Effects You Won’t Believe Aren’t CGI.”
In John Carpenter’s Escape from New York, Carpenter wanted a computer image of New York City skyscrapers as Snake Plissken’s glider cruises the city skies. Unfortunately, Carpenter didn’t have the budget for these high-tech green wireframe images. Instead, he used some green tape and a black light on a model of the city and, PRESTO!, you’ve got a computer layout of the city:
Even as a connoisseur of practical special effects, while watching Lord of the Rings I was never quite sure how they managed to have Elijah Wood Frodo sit next to Ian McKellan Gandalf and manage to make Frodo look so small.
It’s called forced perspective, which is the same thing that allows those cool sidewalk paintings to look like they’re 3D. You might normally see it under conditions that call attention to the effect (think of those Leaning Tower of Pisa photos that everyone takes), but director Peter Jackson does it so casually you don’t expect it to be such a simple camera trick.
There are some other items you may not have known (The Dark Knight‘s truck flip was real) that you can read from the whole article, here.