Hollywood magic' was a word used to describe the wonderfully built practical effect sets that allowed filmmakers to bring to life everything from otherworldly castles nestled in a mythical realm to extraterrestrial spaceships looming in the sky. Almost every special effect nowadays is achieved by computer-generated imagery (CGI).
This of course can be quite expensive. As a result, some filmmakers may find some ingenious ways to achieve their special effects. These films were all great because they utilized simple, low-cost effects.
10. The Recombining Terminator
The villain, a silent, relentless Terminator model with the capacity to melt and rearrange its body to recover from any injury, is credited with making Terminator 2 one of the best action films ever filmed. The Terminator's metal-liquid body merging into a single entity is one of the most iconic sequences in the film.
A beaker of mercury and a blow dryer was used to create this unearthly look. It was only a matter of spilling the thick liquid on the floor for the team. A blow dryer sprayed its metallic droplets in varied directions as they spread slowly throughout the space. The entire scenario was merely reversed to give the idea that the Terminator was resurrecting from the liquid.
9. The Great Wizard Diminutive Hobbit
In most of the Lord of the Rings scenes, director Peter Jackson used forced perspective to make Frodo and the other hobbits appear small in comparison to everyone else. That is, the camera was angled in such a way that the hobbits appeared to be standing very close to other performers, even though they were far away.
The hobbits appeared to be considerably smaller as a result of this, even though they were simply farther away. To help sell the effect, special furniture and carts were built.
8. Rippling Water Caused By Approaching T-Rex
The solitary shot of a glass of water rippling silently from the heavy step of an approaching T-Rex in the original Jurassic Park caused as much anxiety as any other sequence in the film. Steven Spielberg spent a long time trying to figure out how to get the perfect circular ripples. He finally found it in a simple strumming of a guitar chord. Michael Lantieri, the dinosaur effects supervisor, strummed his guitar until he found the exact note that caused the glass of water to ripple in the way Spielberg desired.
7. Captain Kirk Mask
Michael Myers was first presented to the public in the original Halloween, and his white, malformed mask, which bore the barest resemblance to an actual human, was what made the silent serial killer so horrifying. The original mask was not created by a dedicated group of horror specialists. Instead, the props team discovered an antique Star Trek mask modeled after Captain Kirk's appearance. They screwed up the hair, painted it white, and expanded the eyeholes on the mask. As a result, one of the most iconic pieces of horror imagery in history was born.
6. Space Jumping With Mirrors
In J.J. Abrams' Star Trek film, Kirk and his crew dropped to a planet from orbit in an insane jump. It was not an option to hang the players upside down from wires for the hours it would take to film the sequence.
To make it appear as if Chris Pine and the other actors were falling from the sky, they simply had them stand on top of mirrors in the open sky, then blasted the actors with fans to give them a windswept appearance. Finally, to complete the 'falling from orbit' effect, they recorded the entire affair from a downward angle.
5. Windsock Tornado
The Wizard of Oz is a great fantasy film that starts with a bang, with a tornado smashing through Kansas before transporting Dorothy to Oz. In that scenario, the landscape was a miniature model of Kansas farmland. When it came time to depict the tornado, the crew linked a long windsock to a gantry and moved the two in opposite directions to simulate the tornado's movement.
4. The Double of Sarah Connor
In Terminator 2, Sarah Connor is seen in front of a mirror mending a hole in the terminator's head. While we see John Connor, Sarah, and the Terminator sitting in front of their reflections, their bodily counterparts are sitting across from them.
3. 3D New York City
The digital 3D model of New York used in Escape from New York was, frankly, too pricey for the film's budget to construct.
They utilized green tape and a blacklight to work on the tiny model of New York that they had already used in earlier shots. The resulting image appeared to be a true 3D model of the city, rather than something made with store-bought materials.
2. The Superman Throw
In Superman Returns, Clark returns to his hometown, where he is greeted by his childhood pet at his farm. Clark winds up tossing the ball clear into the sky after the dog fetches it. The producer used a potato gun to fire a ball into the sky at the same time that Brandon Routh pretended to throw the ball into the air to make it look like it went into the sky.
1. From One Dream To The Other.
In a scene in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Jim Carrey's mind is gradually destroying previous memories as he tries to recall them. Instead of using green screen and editing to film the action, the filmmaker had all of the actors run in and out of the camera's range for several sequences. This meant that Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet had to change their attire and depict new emotions for each scene while rushing in and out of the camera's view.
These films prove that special effects don't have to be expensive.
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