11 Movie Visual Effects That Are More Awesome Than We Imagined

The movie making process involves different kinds of tips and tricks, including special effects and computer graphics. Some of them look so natural that it’s difficult to believe they’re not real!

Blood Diamond, 2006

Apparently, the director was not impressed with Jennifer Connelly’s acting in the scene where she speaks with her dying friend on the phone. To make the scene more emotional, the film crew decided to add a computer-generated teardrop running down the actress’s face. Jennifer Connelly was really surprised as she saw this only when the movie came out.

Forrest Gump, 1994

This movie is filled with disguised visual effects. For instance, many of you will remember the impressive scene where a feather falls down right in front of Forrest’s feet. It looks amazingly real, but the truth is it was a graphical addition created on a computer. And the scene where Forrest is playing ping-pong? In reality, all the actor had to do was swing the racket — the balls were computer graphics added during post-production.

Die Hard with a Vengeance, 1995

One of the most memorable scenes is definitely when the main character, portrayed by Bruce Willis, is in Harlem, New York, wearing a sign that says “I hate niggers.“ In order to avoid any potentially dangerous situations (the Harlem neighborhood is also known as ”Black Mecca“), the writing was added with computer-generated imagery in post-production. Even when the movie came out, some television broadcasts used an alternative version where the sign says “I hate everyone.”

Black Swan, 2010

Besides the apparent visual effects (like the scenes in which Natalie Portman’s character, Nina Sayers, experiences hallucinations), the producers also used less obvious ones. One of them is when Nina begins to transform into the Black Swan and picks a small black feather from her shoulder. It looks very real but, in fact, was completely drawn on a computer. Another interesting addition is Natalie’s…hands. The director decided that they look too gentle and tender on the screen, so they were graphically altered to appear more “evil.” This was achieved by lengthening the actress’s fingers and adding some wrinkles.

A Beautiful Mind, 2001

During the filmmaking process, some adjustments are simply necessary for safety reasons. In these situations, visual effects come in handy. For example, during the scene where John Nash (Russell Crowe) almost drowns a baby, 2 scenes were shot separately: one of them was just a filled bath, and the other was of a baby in an empty bath. The result of combining both those scenes looks so realistic it gives you chills.

The Wolf of Wall Street, 2013

In this movie there is plenty of beautiful scenery: just remember the luxury mansion that Jordan Belfort owned, or his romantic wedding by the ocean, or the breathtaking views from the pier… Looks like a fortune was spent to build, rent, or simply have an opportunity to shoot scenes in some locations. However, to the disappointment of many, a lot of the scenes and places were created with computer graphics, which helped to avoid unnecessary expenses. In the famous scene in the office, the lion was real, but it was shot separately from the people and the background, and then the scene was put together on a computer.

Dark Shadows, 2012

Tim Burton aimed to make his movie seem as credible as possible. For that purpose, visual effects specialists adjusted every scene where the main character, played by Johnny Depp, was blinking. Needless to say, this way his vampire looks even more impressive!

Brokeback Mountain, 2005

According to Ang Lee, the director of Brokeback Mountain, the scenes with the sheep were the most difficult to shoot. The film crew only had 700 animals at their disposal, but the story required 2,500. The only way out was to draw all the sheep that were missing on a computer.

Birdman, 2014

In Birdman, the scenes follow one another with almost no cuts in between, which created a lot of different problems and challenges for the crew. One of the issues was that the camera moved very fast, so at times it was impossible to catch the proper lighting. The solution became special computer masks: they were used to correct the bad shots during editing and represented the faces of the actors with perfect lighting.

The Social Network, 2010

Not many people know that both Winklevoss brothers were played by the same actor: Armie Hammer. Of course, it would have been much easier to just get real twins to play these characters, but David Finch personally insisted on choosing Hammer. The main trick that made all the scenes with both brothers in them look so realistic was digital face replacement: the “body” of one of the brothers was taken from a double, and the face of Armie Hammer was added during post-production.

Captain America: The First Avenger, 2011

A lot of work was put into turning Chris Evans, with his great physique and muscles, into skinny Steve Rogers. At first, a body double was used, but it was not enough since no one could properly replicate original “Steve Rogers“ movements, so the scenes still looked a bit weird. They ultimately decided to use digital technologies to ”shrink” Chris Evans down. Every scene was meticulously shot from 4 different angles in order to make this possible, and the actor had to double up his legs to look even smaller in group scenes with other characters.