Tag Archives: Special Effects

Mission Impossible 4: Amazing fun without costing brain cells

Numerous films barely remain lively after their sequels, much less reach their fourth installment without going straight to DVD.  Seeing Tom Cruise, closing in on fifty, return to the screen as super spy Ethan Hunt hardly seems a selling point, but The Incredibles director Brad Bird brings us a film that hearkens back to when action films produced real stunts and real thrills.  In the words of James Lipton, it’s a delight. Continue reading

Special Effects you won’t believe were done for real

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.” Continue reading

Don’t forget to tip your foley artist (short video)

One of my first memories of being enchanted with filmmaking was a Discovery Channel show called Movie Magic (or something like that) detailing how special effects were created.  From squibs (small explosions for gunshots) to miniatures (the helicopter crash from Cliffhanger), I was enthralled – especially when a guy called a foley artist took a chainsaw to a watermelon.  Continue reading

Inception making-of featurette details hallway special effects

The hallway scene from Inception was originally explained by The Filmsmith back in February 2010.  With the release of Inception on DVD last week, the following making-of feature has made it to youtube, further detailing our original explanation.  For special effects geeks (myself included), it’s quite interesting to see the full mechanics required to rotate the hallway and the struggle to choreograph the fights inside the turning tunnel:

It’s nothing short of amazing the lengths to which they went to avoid using CGI – and it looks all the better for it.

Burke and Hare Photos and Clip (plus Inception Info)

Last night I was on the set for a small scene of John Landis’ latest, Burke and Hare.  The scene feature Andy Serkis and Simon Pegg running down an alley, chasing something, until Pegg notices a strange sound.  In the video below, they turn around and director Landis is the one describing the CGI barrel coming toward them, going over their head (“BOUNCE!”), and crashing behind camera.

Serkis, Pegg, and Landis didn’t stray into the crowd to talk much.  I was behind the crew since I was their first, but I just got a nod from the celebs as they passed by.  Didn’t seem interested in mingling.

It was interesting to see so much money/effort go into such a small scene.  They’re shooting in Sterling today and tomorrow, then returning to Edinburgh to shoot Thursday-Saturday morning.  A friend of mine already knows where they’re shooting on Friday.

I got a lot of  info from a guy on set.  He says it’s a 7 week shoot and they just got back from London.  They’re using two cameras (blurry picture below) to maximize time.

However, more interesting was his comments on Christopher Nolan (a bit chaotic in his shooting style), since he worked with him on Inception and The Dark Knight.  He showed me a video of the rig they used for a hallway scene in the film, which was larger than a semi-truck’s trailer, that completely rotated.  He went on to explain that they rubberized everything inside and painted it so the actors inside could roll around and fight.  They also locked down a camera inside the hallway and used a camera crane that could go inside the moving rig.  Evidently I’m one of the only guys outside of the film industry to see his little cell phone video of this rig.

Trucks and lighting equipment.

This is probably the angle they'll shoot the scene from, since there's a restaurant in the opposite direction.

Dressing the set to hide the new. They also installed old wooden signs.

Rustic carts and hay for that turn of the century look.

This is how you light a set when you can't get a cherry picker lighting kit in: it's a balloon with lights inside.

Waiting for dark with the balloon light rig.

Sorry about the quality. Not enough light and flash wasn't allowed.

[video courtesy of David Law]