If you headed to theaters this weekend to see "Need for Speed," the film included some crazy stunts.
Audiences saw a Ford Mustang jump three lanes of traffic in Detroit and get airlifted by a U.S. Army helicopter.
One thing you may not have realized was that the DreamWorks' film was made entirely without any computer-generated imagery, commonly known as "CGI."
Director Scott Waugh — a former stuntman — wanted to make the action look as real as possible.
“My philosophy has always been that you can’t break physics because if you do it hurts the story because then the characters don’t apply to physics either,” said Waugh.
In Hollywood, while most films employ CGI, you may be surprised by the movies that opt out of using digital enhancements.The weightlessness in "Apollo 13" was thanks to a military plane that recreated zero gravity.
When it came to achieving weightlessness on screen, Tom Hanks and the rest of the crew in 1995's "Apollo 13" had less help from Hollywood and more from NASA.
The cast and crew used NASA's "Vomit Comet," a Boeing 707 "that climbs to 30,000 ft. and then arcs into a steep dive, creating a 23-second period of weightlessness." Director Ron Howard liked it so much he put the set of the film right into the plane itself.
"If we’d had to do it with wires — if we really would’ve had to try to create the weightlessness with wires, I shudder to think what the movie would have looked like," said Howard.
Tom Cruise actually climbed the Burj Khalifa for "Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol."
Even more astounding than Dubai's Burj Khalifa's height (2,722 feet) is that Tom Cruise actually scaled the upper levels of the building in "Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol."
"When you’re on top and you look out, people are going to think it’s CG [computer-generated], and it’s not," Gregg Smrz, the film's stunt coordinator, told the L.A. Times.
While a green screen would have been a lot easier and safer, Cruise insisted on climbing with special harnesses and rigging about 1,700 feet off the ground (that's 250 feet higher than the Empire State Building) in order to pull off the seemingly impossible scene.
The face-melting ending from "Raiders of the Lost Ark" was done using melting wax sculptures.
"Raiders of the Lost Ark" won the 1981 Oscar for Best Visual Effects, but the iconic "face-melting" ending used nothing more than practical effects.
"The melting of Toht, the Nazi villain’s head in 'Raiders of the Lost Ark,' required an innovative approach," visual-effects artist Dennis Muren told Vanity Fair. "It was decided that the head would be sculpted in wax ... filmed at a speed slower than normal, high heat was applied and the head appears to melt rapidly revealing layers of skin, muscle, and bone when played back at normal speed."
In addition, the ghosts that float during the Lost Ark ceremony were silken puppets floating in a tank of water.
While a scene in "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" makes it seem as if CGI shrunk Carrey, it was actually an optical illusion.
During the "Baby Joel" scene director Michel Gondry used forced perspective to make Carrey look like a small child compared to Winslet.
The optical illusion makes objects look larger or smaller than they actually are. It's been utilized in many films ("The Lord of the Rings" being a key example), but 2004's "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" used it to pull off a mind-twisting effect.
"You want to be around people with ideas ... ideas and guts," Carrey said about the film. "But you're not sitting just going, 'how can we imitate what was before?'"
Christopher Nolan used miniatures and flipped an actual 18-wheeler during a big chase scene in "The Dark Knight."
One of the best scenes in Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight" is the Joker chase through Gotham City that ends with Batman flipping an 18-wheeler.
When Batman's Tumbler crushes a garbage truck, Nolan actually used a miniature scaled set and vehicles to pull off the effect.
Nolan flipped the 18-wheeler, too. He used a catapulting ram built into the semi to flip it over in the middle of downtown Chicago.
"The Dark Knight Rises" ripped apart a plane and dropped it from the sky.
Nolan continued his practical effects on a larger scale when introducing villain Bane in "The Dark Knight Rises."
The beginning of the film has Bane's henchmen deploying from the sky onto another plane that gets ripped apart before getting dropped to the ground.
The production team actually obtained permission to drop the body of a C-130 airplane into Scotland and did so without any CGI.
"Really, your job as director is to ignore the scale of things and just look at the shot that you’re going to put on screen — and how that’s going to further the story," Nolan told the NY Daily News.
The incredible upside-down hallway fight scene in "Inception" consisted of a 100-foot revolving set.
From the real exploding Paris café scene to the many dream collapsing miniature set pieces, Christopher Nolan's "Inception" enters dreamworlds without ever really leaving reality.
The coolest scene in the film that didn't contain any CGI was the Joseph Gordon-Levitt spinning hallway fight.
Nolan pulled off the rotating hallway by building a 110-foot corridor that could rotate on suspended rings with the actors inside of it.
"There's no substitute for real human energy and performance," Gordon-Levitt said in the featurette about acting inside of the rig. "That was the most fun."
"2001: A Space Odyssey" incorporated giant elaborate sets and camera tricks to film realistic space.
Before CGI-filled "Gravity," Stanley Kubrick used camera tricks and giant elaborate sets to bring his 1968 masterpiece to life.
A 30-ton and $750,000 rotating "Ferris wheel" set was built in order to create the illusion of an actual rotating spaceship.
For the film's colorful "Star-Gate" finale, Kubrick used a "Slit Scan" machine. It filmed two planes of exposure that looked as if they went on forever while also mixing in color filters.
Most of the effects that brought audiences to a galaxy far, far away in "Star Wars" were done with miniatures and motion-controlled photography.
The original "Star Wars" changed special effects and paved the way for computer-generated effects today.
Yet, back in 1977 a lot of the film's greatest effects were done thanks to miniatures and motion-controlled camerawork.
A miniature version of the Millennium Falcon was constructed and thanks to the "Dykstraflex" motion-controlled camera technology it was able to fly through space on screen.
The innovative camera technology (named after the film's FX artist, John Dykstra) allowed computers to program moving camera shots to be repeated over and over, according to Industry Light and Magic.
This gave the FX artists the ability to put together multiple shots of the miniatures into a single seamless shot showing that sometimes the best special effects are a mixture of practical and digital.
The creatures from "The Thing" were created with puppetry.
"What I didn't want to end up with in this movie was a guy in a suit," director John Carpenter said discussing his 1982 horror classic "The Thing."
Instead, Carpenter received beautifully terrifying puppets by visual effects artist Rob Bottin.
A 22-year-old Bottin used puppetry, stop-motion photography, and operated most of the creatures himself.
He did so much work on the film he reportedly checked himself into a hospital when shooting was done to recover from exhaustion.
Make-up was responsible for the chilling transformation scene from "An American Werewolf In London."
Until John Landis' "An American Werewolf In London," films like 1941's "The Wolf Man" usually cut away when showing werewolf transformations on screen.
Actor David Naughton went through intense make-up sessions between takes to transform into the iconic character.
Reverse photography, moving robotic sculptures (such as stretching Naughton's hand into a paw), and sticking Naughton's head out of the floor were tricks used to make the effects believable. The entire transformation itself took about a week to shoot.
Wires helped Marty McFly's hoverboard fly in "Back To The Future Part II."
Contrary to what Tony Hawk would have you think, there are no such things as hoverboards.
However, director Robert Zemeckis and the crew of "Back To The Future: Part II" did their best to make you think otherwise.
In a futuristic action sequence from the 1989 sequel, Zemeckis and his crew used very simple wires and harnesses in order to make Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) hover around 2015 Hill Valley.
As far as actual hoverboard technology, we're one year away from that.
The famous chest bursting scene from "Alien" was prosthetics, fake blood, and butcher meat.
One of the most unexpected scenes in "Alien" is when an alien creature burst out of Kane's chest in the middle of his recovery.
The actors' freak-out reactions that you saw on screen were entirely real because they had no idea how it was really going to occur. Everything was filmed in one take using fake blood, rigging, and butcher shop meat, according to an oral history by Empire.
"Prosthetics in those days weren’t that good. I figured the best thing to do was to get stuff from a butcher’s shop and a fishmonger," Director Ridley Scott told Empire. "On the morning we had them examining the Facehugger, that was clams, oysters, seafood. You had to be ready to shoot because it started to smell pretty quickly."
Once the scene actually took place, the spraying fake blood freaked out Veronica Cartwright so much she actually passed out.
Three giant animatronic sharks were made for "Jaws," none of which worked properly.
Since Steven Spielberg's 1975 "Jaws" was made before CGI was established, the film built three 25-foot animatronic sharks (that Spielberg jokingly nicknamed "Bruce" after his lawyer) that could swim and jump in the air.
The robotic sharks famously didn't work, and Spielberg was forced to go with the less is more approach which ended up making "Jaws" one of the scariest and most successful films of all time.
Spielberg later told Digital Spy he would use CGI if he was shooting "Jaws" today but added he believed the film was so effective because of its authenticity.
Now that you've seen films that didn't use many visual effects ...
Here's what movies would look like without special effects »
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