Being able to watch behind-the-scenes shots of films can be an incredible experience for some, and the loss of innocence for others. The magic of filmmaking depends on many factors, and in recent years CGI and visual effects have become a big part of it. Some scenes just wouldn't look the same without it, and these examples are mind-blowing.
I Am Legend's Creepy Mutant Dogs
You know that feeling when something completely freaks you out, although you know it's really just an inanimate object that can't hurt you? Yeah, that's where we are right now. We're feeling queasy looking at this doll that was used to make the mutant dogs in I Am Legend look real.
Will Smith's face says it all. In order to film that harrowing scene, a man in a green suit had to pretend to fight with his hand opposite Smith's character, and we get chills thinking about that moment all over again.
Rocket's Entire Body in Guardians of the Galaxy
One of the most beloved characters in Guardians of the Galaxy, if not in the entire MCU, is definitely Rocket. With Bradley Cooper's voice and that feisty attitude, Rocket Raccoon and his human characteristics captured the hearts of many. Sadly, they didn't hire an actual living raccoon for the job (bummer). Instead, here's Drax petting the director's brother.
James Gunn's brother Sean doesn't only play Kraglin in this franchise. He's the body behind Rocket, and Dave Bautista's filming pal, it seems. We wonder how awkward these scenes must have been!
Swimming in Aquaman
For a movie that's set mostly in the ocean, the movement of the actors is probably the main focus of the production. To achieve that flawless flow-in-the-water look for Aquaman, the actors didn't really have to film any scenes underwater. Instead, they were hanging on wires and moved like they were swimming.
We have to say it's actually pretty impressive. This technique resulted in beautiful movement that does resemble swimming in water, and it just may have been the reason for the film's box office success (other than things like the script and the actors and all that).
The Boy Who Cried Wolf in New Moon
Actors have to go through some really weird things while filming, but this has to be the most ridiculous situation for both Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner. We truly don't know which is funnier-- having to pet your friend's head, or having to be petted by your friend while trying to act like you're a giant werewolf.
In the Twilight saga, young Bella encounters magical creatures like vampires and werewolves, and we know some scenes were probably hard to film. However, what could possibly be harder (and funnier) than filming this?
John Wick's Motorcycle Chase
Sometimes, what we see on the big screen looks so authentic and real that it's hard to imagine any CGI was involved. That's why we're lucky to have these photographs from John Wick: Chapter 3. It helps us accept that this motorcycle scene wasn't actually shot the way we thought it was.
A green screen and an elaborate combination of crew members and heavy machinery were the key to nailing this chase spectacle. Riding down an actual highway was probably a bit too risky, even for John Wick.
The Tiger From Life of Pi
Not many movies were able to pull off what Life of Pi did. The stunning fantasy movie probably has some of the most elaborate, phenomenally beautiful shots in cinema history. For a film that has been dubbed "a visual miracle", the visual effects are nothing less than remarkable.
However realistic the animals in Life of Pi may have seemed, it's impossible for an actor to physically be near such a dangerous beast like a tiger. That's why a blue puppet and special effects were edited in - and the result is absolutely mesmerizing.
Slimy Tentacles in Pirates of the Caribbean
How different would things look for the Pirates of the Caribbean saga if Davy Jones would've walked around in a gray sweatshirt and a motion-capture hat? We're not used to seeing the octopus-y villain looking so plain, and it makes us wonder which one would be more terrifying to bump into.
Bill Nighy portrays the tragic antihero in the epic pirate franchise to perfection. It's just that we never thought we'd see him without that viscous face, and it makes us realize how much hard work was put into his character alone.
Iron Man's Iron Suit
While it's obvious that superhero movies require massive amounts of CGI work, it's still weird to see the before and after pictures of some of our favorite characters. It makes us realize how much work goes into every last frame, and how hilarious it must be to shoot some of these scenes.
This scene from Iron Man, for example, explains what we're talking about. Major props to Robert Downey Jr. for keeping a straight face while wearing this helmet and pretending he's wearing a full-on metal suit while in reality, he's in gray mo-cap sweats.
He Who Shall Not Be Named in Harry Potter
The person/evil entity/dark wizard who freaked us out when we were kids, and maybe even still today, is not really that scary in real life. Harry Potter's archenemy Voldemort is portrayed by none other than Ralph Fiennes, and getting a look at the actor behind the CGI tracking markers has calmed our nerves a bit.
The English actor was well-known before portraying He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named, but the role gave him the performance of a lifetime. Losing his nose and gaining some really creepy facial modifications has turned Fiennes into a character no one will be able to forget.
Aladdin's Magic Carpet
In the past few years there's been a trend that took Hollywood by storm. Many love it, some hate it, and most people just tolerate it. The live-action renditions of Disney's classic animated movies are just getting started, and productions are costly due to the meticulous CGI work.
The 2019 live-action Aladdin did well in the box office, with more than $1 billion in earnings, and it looks like they could afford the crazy stunts and visual effects needed for filming. Just take a look at how Aladdin's carpet ride with Jasmine was made.
Flying in the Matrix
Many people love movies because of the way they can delve into a world that's different from their own, or because of the way the story is told. Some movies really take you on a ride, and one of the best examples of a movie that shows you a whole new world has to be The Matrix.
The story, the costumes, THE Keanu-- it doesn't get more legendary than this. The sci-fi phenomenon that changed the world has some unforgettable scenes, and we feel lucky to be able to see how they were made.
The Dinosaurs in Jurassic World
For CGI to work well, many hours of hard work in the editing room must take place. The goal is to give the audience the most real-looking animation, and it's extremely hard to do with prehistoric creatures. So when they filmed Jurassic World, they had to use the most lifelike creatures they could find. In this case - humans.
The adventure film starring Chris Pratt was action-packed and even had some scary moments, thanks to the incredible visual effects that gave the dinosaurs a terrifyingly real feeling. Seeing how it was really shot, though, takes the stress away very easily.
Hagrid's Giant Half Brother in Harry Potter
The Harry Potter movies have long been a symbol of phenomenal book-to-film adaptations. Having the most complex and grand visuals to achieve, the filmmakers and producers always strived to bring us the best content. Other than practical effects that have been used throughout the filming, major CGI work was needed for certain scenes.
Viewers first met Grawp the giant, Hagrid's half-brother, in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. To make him seem huge while holding Hermione, the actor used a doll to convey the scary interaction.
The Hobbit's Scenery
Although we know the mysterious and otherworldly lands of Middle-earth are not real, it's still kinda disheartening. Many of the films we love and adore are shot fully in a closed studio, and we admire the actors' ability to act like they're in that alternate universe rather than standing in a green screen-filled room.
In this shot from The Hobbit, we can see just how much imagination is needed on the actors' part, and how much hard work is needed in the editing room. Talk about a dramatic change.
Alice in Wonderland's Tweedledee and Tweedledum
Tim Burton has a long and impressive legacy of really weird yet aesthetically-pleasing movies. His brilliance shines through in projects like 1989's Batman, Corpse Bride, Edward Scissorhands, and many more. In Alice in Wonderland, his re-imagining of the classic tale was translated into colorful, theatrical visuals-- just take a look at the making of some of the characters.
Crafting the big screen versions of Tweedledee and Tweedledum, and key characters in the book and film, and making them larger-than-life was quite a challenge. Actor Matt Lucas had to walk on stilts for most of the film's production!
Andy Serkis's Mo-Cap Domination
At this point, we can safely say that Andy Serkis is the undeniable king of motion-capture. From Gollum in LOTR to Caesar in the Planet of the Apes saga, his qualities as an actor are unmatched and it is visible in the roles he takes on.
We love seeing these kinds of photos, where you can clearly see his face in the characters he portrays. Although some of the finer characteristics get lost in the process, the end result is stunning every time.
Beauty and the Beast's Ballroom Dance
Some actors' days on set are usually pretty normal - they show up, get their hair and makeup done, perform, and go home. Then repeat it all over again. Now, try adding acting opposite a man in springy shoes and a giant, puffy mo-cap suit. This was Emma Watson's life back when she was filming 2017's Beauty and the Beast.
Surely Watson's experience on this set has been somewhat challenging (how could she keep a straight face?), but we can't even imagine Dan Stevens's struggles as he played the Beast.
Taika Waititi's Character in Thor: Ragnarok
A director, a producer, a screenwriter, a comedian, and an actor-- Taika Waititi is a man of many talents. Yes, we're talking about New Zealand's own Oscar-winning director of Jojo Rabbit and Thor: Ragnarok (amongst others, of course).
In the latter, instead of just directing, Waititi jumped on the opportunity to voice (and be the body of) Korg, a warrior who helps Thor and The Hulk escape from Sakaar. As is completely evident, Waititi is way shorter than Chris Hemsworth, who appears alongside him, so the difference between the two shots is quite astonishing.
Becoming Two-Face in the Dark Knight
If there was ever a genre-defining moment in cinema history, it has to be Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy. The man who made Batman rise again is responsible for some of the best films of the last two decades. He also didn't shy away from using visual effects every now and then.
These pictures of Aaron Eckhart's before and after his big Two-Face transformation, where half of his face basically burns down, are the epitome of phenomenal visual effects. The epic result stayed with viewers for a very long time.
Creating Challenges in the Hunger Games
The Hunger Games, in case you were living under a rock, is a series of books for young adults. It's about a dystopian society in a country called Panem, where the population is classified into districts with varying degrees of poverty.
The famous books were made into a film series, and some of the plot's more complicated technical aspects had to go through some CGI augmentation. During the titular Hunger Games, a group of people come up with challenges for the participants to face. As it happens, the biggest challenge turned out to be the actors needing to pretend they were hovering over something other than a plain green desk.
Explosives on the Avengers
Cool guys don't look at explosions, except for Thor. He's a cool guy and at least going by this photo, he also looks at explosions head-on. The Avengers (2012) set a precedent for future superhero movies from the house of Marvel, and it's amazing to see the way the films were made.
The big explosions at the end of the film didn't really take place in NYC under an alien attack (thankfully). Instead, green screens in a studio were used to later add in the fire effects that give this scene the most authentic feeling.
It's easy to forget the impact that Avatar had on the world. Even if it's not one of your favorite films, you have to admire the fact that it changed the film industry, paving the way for movies like The Avengers and Star Wars sequels.
The film that changed the way CGI and motion-capture works has some stunning visual effects and marvelous shots. The way the actors were shot for their scenes was almost completely modified, as they had to wear their head and body gear for most of the filming.
Jumanji's Big Motorcycle Jump
Reboot season is always on, and it looks like Hollywood just can't get enough of the retelling and remaking. One prime example is 2017's Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, where the magical adventure game becomes real, and the CGI work is endless.
For this particular shot with the insane motorcycle jump, we can see that the big tiger sculpture is real, and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson riding a motorcycle is real. The only thing missing is the background and moving visual effects for the ride. Looks like a cool trick to pull off!
Huge Crowds in 300: Rise of an Empire
Zack Snyder's 300 was a colossal film. With Gerard Butler in the lead and an epic storyline, it's no wonder that the movie was successful. While its sequel, 300: Rise of an Empire, wasn't as big, it didn't let that stop it from having pretty some awesome before and after pictures.
King Xerxes, played by Rodrigo Santoro, is a larger-than-life character that's based on an actual Persian king. He has some big scenes in both 300 movies, and in this photo we can see just how big those scenes were - and how much acting was needed on Santoro's part.
Black Panther's Water Fight
It's no secret that superhero movies require a lot of CGI work, for multiple reasons. Every Marvel or DC-based film is loaded with difficult scenes to shoot. In Black Panther, which is packed with those, there's the big water fight scene between T'Challa and Killmonger. We have to say that for something that looks relatively easy to shoot, a lot of editing work was apparently needed for it.
The fan-favorite film had to deconstruct the fight, filming every part of it separately and then pasting it all together at the end. It's interesting to see the end result after learning the filming method.
Those magnificent wings on Angelina Jolie in Maleficent are obviously computer-generated, but we have to give it to the editing team for making it look so good. The world is fascinated with live-action Disney movies for a reason, and Angie's portrayal of the evil antagonist is truly captivating-- the after-effects are just the icing on the cake in this case.
Having wings and flying are totally normal in today's films, as superhuman powers are given to actors via visual effects and machines suspending them in the air. Take a look at this before-and-after shot, showing just how mesmerizing it can get.
The Busy Streets in the Great Gatsby
Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby is a movie about a timeless story. Based on the novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, which is set in the Roaring Twenties, the filmmakers had to really set the tone in order to match the time period. One of the most important things to convey was the setting-- the cars, the characters' speech, and the wardrobe.
From this beautiful before and after it is noticeable that filming this street scene wasn't so easy. The buzzing Times Square was all CGI'ed into the shot, and only a small portion was actually real.
Gravity's Extraterrestrial Background
Gravity was one of those movies that was so technologically impressive, that it doesn't come as a surprise that it won seven Oscars. Sandra Bullock and George Clooney play two astronauts stranded in space and their acting is great as usual, but the movie's biggest achievement is definitely those stunning visuals.
There's just something about seeing Earth from outer space, and the way Gravity captured those awe-inspiring moments is purely fascinating. Though we guess the actors had to use their imagination during the entirety of filming, it was probably worth the wait for them as well.
Almost Every Scene in Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle
Some movies require more CGI work than the actual filming, and the lead actor in this one had filmed many parts of the movie alone or with men in green suits. in Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle, young Rohan Chand had to pretend to roam around with animals and have full-on dialogues with them when in reality, it was way lonelier.
The impressive result in this film is thanks to a lot of editing work. We can't even try to assess how long the post-production was compared to the actual filming!
Hot Air Balloon Scene in Oz the Great and Powerful
A hot air balloon trapped in a dangerous stream going down a waterfall? Sounds like a very complicated scene to shoot. Oh, and don't forget the hurricane it was in just a few minutes prior to this scenario. Oz the Great and Powerful from 2013 used a lot of visual effects due to the very complex scenes it featured.
James Franco, who portrayed Oz, had to go through quite a turbulence while filming this part, as the magic-filled movie was packed with visually-complicated fragments.
Broom Flight in Harry Potter
No one made kids (and adults) want to be able to fly more than Harry Potter. The famous character affected the world in more ways than one. Back when the books and films came out, everybody suddenly wanted to be a wizard, but not more than they wanted to know how to fly like the Quidditch-playing hero.
Flying on a broom is a very important skill for wizards to have, and Daniel Radcliffe has sure mastered it in his run as Harry. The method includes riding on a green broom and a whole lot of powerful fans.
The Wolf of Wall Street's Docks
Some films don't really have any scenes that are CGI-worthy, but due to obligations and limitations some of the most mundane shots have to include visual effects. The Wolf of Wall Street is definitely one of those.
It doesn't look like there are many scenes that would require visual effects, if any at all, for this movie, but when Jordan (Leonardo DiCaprio) wants to give his love interest Naomi (Margot Robbie) a present, it has to be done with a green screen. A yacht and dock are obviously not always accessible for films, hence the CGI use for this scene.
LV-223's Appearance in Prometheus
The Alien franchise is no stranger to success, but not every movie in the series has sat well with the audience. A 2012 prequel that is less known and also less well-liked than the others (not in our opinion - we find it completely underrated) is Prometheus.
A team of scientists try to find the origins of humanity in this prequel, and as fit for a film that is set in the future and mostly in outer space-- the visuals are absolutely sensational. The distant moon they go to, LV-223, has breathtaking landscapes indeed.
Godzilla's Body and Size
Godzilla is a monster we all know and love. It's been the subject of a few Kaiju films (Japanese for a genre of films featuring giant monsters) and quite a lot of remakes over the years. The obsession is real, and 2014's version of the beast came with an impressive amount of CGI to accommodate the film's needs.
In order to film some of the more complicated scenes (which one isn't complicated in a movie like this?), a lot of creative filming and hours of editing in post-production were taken into consideration.
Narnia's Magical Landscapes
The enchanting movies that both children and adults love are The Chronicles of Narnia, the saga about four siblings who find an entire mystical land in their wardrobe. As with mystical lands, some beautifully mystical visual shots had to be added.
The saga was shot primarily in European locations, such as Poland, the Czech Republic, and the U.K. It seems that the production chose real locations and only later added in the castles and cities they needed, creating a beautiful image that is half real and half computer-generated.
John Carter's Space Creatures
John Carter (2012) is known as an all-around flop, but it still doesn't mean that the visuals were floppy themselves. In these two images we can see just how much work went into creating this live-action film. That creature on top is a woola, like a space dog who becomes the titular character's pet.
In the second image we can see Dejah Thoris (played by Lynn Collins) riding a Thoat - an eight-legged space creature of some sort, and the massive amount of work (and transportation) it took to get the right shot.
Game of Thrones - Drogon, Rhaegal, and Viserion
Now that we have House of the Dragon, the days of Game of Thrones ruling television seem far away. The masterful series that managed to sweep viewers off their feet is still considered one of the best TV shows to ever air, and there were so many elements that needed production work on set - one of them was creating three large and realistic-looking dragons.
Judging based on the outcome we all saw on screens, they definitely nailed it. Daenerys's three monstrous pets looked surprisingly real, when it fact filming them looked incredibly silly.
The Liveliness of Inanimate Objects in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
There were literally endless magical things in the Harry Potter film franchise, it's hard naming just one thing, but for this next before-and-after pics we would like to focus on this glorious scene from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. For this part in which Hermione talks to Harry while returning library books, something truly extraordinary happens.
The books lift up and return to their assigned places. This was possible with certain green-colored gloves extras had on which were later edited out, giving this floating works their special look.
Playing Basketball With Invisible Creatures in Space Jam
Space Jam (1996) is still one of the best children's films from the last decades - we're big fans of the originals, although the second one from 2021 was a nice attempt. In this first one, we had THE one and only Michael Jordan helping out the Looney Tunes win an important basketball games, and it's one of the most satisfying behind-the-scenes shots of all time.
There's no way around it - this kind of film requires mostly green screen time, but it's simply so much fun to see how everything came to life on the big screen.