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In one of his interviews, George Lucas confessed that he had been waiting 20 years for cinematography technologies to develop well enough to film Star Wars the way he conceived it in his mind while studying in college. Still, he had to create the whole studio almost by himself, as well as create video editing programs to make the fantastic scenes look real. Today’s directors don’t have this issue anymore: the green screen, superfast cameras, and powerful computers make almost any director’s whimsy come to life. But what if we removed all of the visual effects from a movie, what would we see instead?
We at Bright Side questioned this topic and looked through several dozen behind-the-scenes photos and videos. Now we are ready to show you what computer-generated imagery looks like. Beware if you haven’t seen these movies, there are a lot of spoilers in this article.
Cardboard instead of the almighty villain
If actors in Avengers: Endgame were looking into Josh Brolin’s eyes, the characters of the movie would aim their gaze toward Thanos’ chest area in the final version of the film. All because he was a real giant according to the script. That’s why the actor had to wear a stick with a cartoon bust of his alter ego fixed to it, behind his back.
In addition to that, it has to be pretty difficult to act plausibly when someone you are supposed to hate, is running around the set in gray tights and is occasionally smiling. Maybe that’s why Elizabeth Olsen, who depicted the heartbroken Scarlet Witch is joyfully laughing behind the scenes while watching perhaps one of the most dramatic scenes of “Infinity War.”
You can’t help but smile when you see the doll, that was sometimes used to depict Rocket Raccoon on the set of The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy. Though this role belonged to Sean Gunn.
Not a single frame in makeup
Just like Josh Brolin ’s character in The Avengers, Mark Ruffalo’s character Hulk is also fully generated on the computer. That’s an obvious fact but there are few other things that aren’t that obvious. Mark Ruffalo, in the role of the green giant, never had to sit through hair and makeup before going on the set.
Only a couple of dots were placed on the actor’s face to capture his mimics. And, of course, for every scene, Mark Ruffalo had to put on a costume with special sensors.
In the last movie Avengers: Endgame the filmmakers decided to not be limited to generating only fantastic characters and even the characters’ costumes became virtual. According to the plot, at some moment, the humanity-protecting team puts on special spacesuits for time travel. Turns out, it’s much easier to generate them on computers than to sew them.
The superpower of heroes and visual effects
Though some people claim that Tobey Maguire could perform all of his spider tricks without visual effects, we all understand that neither he nor Tom Holland, who played the role of Peter Parker in the new film series about Spider-Man, don’t know how to stick to vertical surfaces. It’s the magical hands of the onset staff who help them do it… literally. Flying scenes are still created with the help of cables just like 10-15 years ago — people still haven’t come up with anything more successful.
For those who are keen, for behind the scenes, here’s me, in green, on a green screen. Da dum da dum de Dee….n. #hisdarkmaterials #serafinapekkala #bts #witchywitchface pic.twitter.com/t7EagPOFeb— Ruta Gedmintas (@Ruta_Gedmintas) December 16, 2019
The magic begins once you rotate the frame 90 degrees.
Hollywood time machine
The filmmakers of Avengers: Endgame have done even more complicated work with the characters’ faces. Chris Evans was first made-up after special marks were put on his face, and then the image was processed on the computer. As a result, we got an aged Captain America. Evans wanted this scene to look even more natural, but the directors answer that it would extend the runtime of the film to 394,200 hours. In the sequel of Guardians of the Galaxy, they did the opposite — Kurt Russell got 30 years younger with the help of special effects.
The creator of the movie The Irishman, Martin Scorsese, said that “Marvel” movies are not cinema at all — they are just audiovisual entertainment. Apparently, the director released his most expensive and longest, 3 and a half hour, film to confirm those words. Its length allowed the directors to show the whole life path of its hero. That’s why Robert De Niro first got younger and then older in the movie.
The day @MarkRuffalo realised that for years he'd actually been working with @mcgregor_ewan pic.twitter.com/STNnAQrlj2— Paul Bettany (@Paul_Bettany) April 26, 2019
One can’t become as evenly red as Paul Bettany’s character in The Avengers, even if they have been awarded 3 “Oscars.” You also won’t be able to make your eyes as round as the main character of the movie Alita: Battle Angel. The movie is based on manga and just like other manga characters, Alita has incredibly huge eyes. Of course, it can all be done with the help of special effects.
When acting is not enough
Here’s how they draw the flowers that suddenly start to grow right on the faces of The Rookies characters.
This is how the image of Ghost Rider was created. It was hard to recognize Nicolas Cage, even on set.
Virtual gym — a complete body transformation in a second
The role of Steve Rogers before his transformation was actually played by 2 actors in Captain America. Chris Evans was responsible for the character’s head, while Leander Deeny was responsible for his body. It’s interesting that even slim Deeny was taller and bigger than the character was supposed to be, that’s why the producers had to make him smaller too. In order to make the scenes look as believable as possible, each of them was shot 3 times: with Evans, with Deeny, and without the actors. At the same time, the filmmakers of Ghost in the Shell had much less work to do. Scarlett Johansson was wearing a tight beige costume for almost the entire filming of the movie.
Except for the scenes where she got damaged. These places were painted green.
Angelina Jolie had to sit through makeup for several hours, with a big team, while shooting the second part of Maleficent. The actress confessed that she looked so scary wearing the makeup and costume, that she was frightening the kids on the set.
For her role in the movie Tomb Raider, Alicia Vikander gained 13 pounds of muscle mass. But still, the jumps her character performed in the movie were impossible without special effects.
If the studio is too small to make the movie
The whole universe of Star Wars almost fit in George Lucas’ garage, while creating the original trilogy. 40 years later, after having created one of the first space movies, the producers of Avengers: Infinity War raised the standards by creating giant studios — but sometimes even they are not enough. That’s when treadmills and green screens come in handy.
The budget of Avengers: Endgame was $356 million, while the movie Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets cost Luc Besson $197 million, which makes it the most expensive European movie. The biggest part of this money was spent on CGI.
None of the underwater scenes from Aquaman were shot underwater. The actors were soaring on suspended lounges, while their hair was drawn. The ocean scenery was taken from nature.
Bonus: Almost all car commercials are done with CGI and they use this car called “the blackbird” to get it done.
Do you more like movies with special effects or without them? Which modern movie do you think would look better without computer editing? We would love to hear from you in the comments!
Preview photo credit Marvel Entertainment / youtube