On-screen, everything looks picture perfect. From close-up shots to elaborate fight scenes, it seems there’s no room for error in our all-time favorite movies. And although it’s true, that doesn’t mean it’s a given.

In fact, many A-list filmmakers have been putting all their best effort, ingenuity, and talent into coming up with something as good as the iconic rooftop scene from The Matrix.

So this time, Bored Panda has compiled a list of the most incredible behind-the-scenes photographs that reveal all the big and small cinematographic tricks. Get your popcorn ready, we’re about to find out how on earth do they do this!

#1

The Phantom Menace (1999)

The Phantom Menace (1999)

Model maker Michael Lynch created this miniature set for Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. To fill the stands, 450,000 Q-tips were cut, painted and inserted into a mesh. By blowing fans from underneath the model stands, the Q-tips appeared as a live crowd moving around in their seats

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Eliška Hůlková
Community Member
3 months ago

Wow! That must have been a lot of work, but the results are quite stunning. It was one of my favourite movies growing up and I've never realized these are not actually extras.

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#2

Guardians Of The Galaxy (2014)

Guardians Of The Galaxy (2014)

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Raksha swami
Community Member
3 months ago

I'm groot

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When you hear someone talking about visual effects, movies like Star Wars, Blade Runner, or Jurassic Park often come to your mind. But VFX aficionados often find their passion not exactly in the entire movies (like film critics), but rather in particular shots that blow their minds in their complexity.

A great example of one is the mirror shot in Robert Zemeckis’ film Contact from 1997, where young Ellie races to a medicine cabinet, with the camera right in front of her face. As she finally comes upstairs, the viewers realize we have been watching her reflection in the mirror.

According to visual effects and animation journalist Ian Failes, this scene embodies all that good VFX should have. “Not only is it a shot considered a milestone in invisible and seamless visual effects, it is a scene that even VFX pros regularly admit they have no idea how it was pulled off.”

#3

Jurassic World (2015)

Jurassic World (2015)

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Andrew Gibb
Community Member
3 months ago

clever girls

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#4

Forrest Gump (1994)

Forrest Gump (1994)

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Mohsie Supposie
Community Member
3 months ago

I thought he just sat with his legs tucked under him.

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The VFX Supervisor Ken Ralston, who worked on the mirror shot in Contact, said that initially, the mirror shot wasn’t going to be that at all.

“One of the things that we were starting to pursue was a very, very early version of what is now called ‘bullet time,’ shooting something with stills and using those, like in The Matrix [which came out in 1999]. At the time, we were looking at The Rolling Stones' music video that had been done,” he told animation journalist Ian Failes in the interview.

#5

Exterior Of The Sewer Set In It

Exterior Of The Sewer Set In It

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Sum Guy
Community Member
3 months ago

Thought it was a spaceship for a second

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#6

Star Wars

Star Wars

Grant Imahara (RIP) and Tory Belleci from Mythbusters working on Trade Federation battleship from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace

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engineer_nope.avi
Community Member
3 months ago

NO WAY! MYTHBUSTERS WORKED IN STAR WARS???!!!! Did not know that!

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#7

E.T The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

E.T The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

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engineer_nope.avi
Community Member
3 months ago

I like that face lol

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#8

The Godfather (1972)

The Godfather (1972)

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engineer_nope.avi
Community Member
3 months ago

That's some amazing transformation in the costume department.

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#9

Back To The Future Part III (1990)

Back To The Future Part III (1990)

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Sum Guy
Community Member
3 months ago

My life = Lie

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Fast forward to today, and people are still mesmerized by the scene without a clue of how the team pulled it off. But when it comes to visual effects, Ralston believes that it all comes down to being presented in a simple way. “The beauty of it is, anywhere else, there’d be cutaways, of course, to show what you need to know.”

A shot like that one, according to Ralston, “just gotta be right or it’s not going to work.” “You have to be grounded somehow in a movie, or believing in what you’re seeing, or it just doesn’t mean anything.”

#10

Pulp Fiction (1994)

Pulp Fiction (1994)

What was inside the glowing briefcase in pulp fiction

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Sum Guy
Community Member
3 months ago

Some movies are just great... they don't even have to pay off the thing that drived the story

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#11

The Hunt For Red October (1990)

The Hunt For Red October (1990)

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Andrew Gibb
Community Member
3 months ago

Give me a ping, Vasily. One ping only, please.

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#12

The Call Of The Wild (2020)

The Call Of The Wild (2020)

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Donkey boi
Community Member
3 months ago

I think I've found my ideal job!

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#13

Star Wars: BB-8

Star Wars: BB-8

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Sum Guy
Community Member
3 months ago

Now I'm curious, when BB-8 is at full speed running away from gunfire, is there a guy just running fast pushing bb-8

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#14

Baby Driver (2017)

Baby Driver (2017)

How the car was driven in Baby Driver when the actors were busy acting inside

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Sum Guy
Community Member
3 months ago (edited)

Because Edgar wright... that's the comment

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Essentially, visual effects have allowed filmmakers to transcend the limits of the screen and create impossible worlds. Sometimes it’s motion-capture footage blended with hand animation as in The Dawn Of Apes (2014).

#15

Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

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Sum Guy
Community Member
3 months ago

Daughter showing her father his grandkids... Thanos looks proud

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#16

Shutter Island (2010)

Shutter Island (2010)

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engineer_nope.avi
Community Member
3 months ago

Even when CGI exists, it's still great to see filmmakers make props like this.

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#17

Life Of Pi (2015)

Life Of Pi (2015)

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Az
Community Member
3 months ago

Life of Pi?

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#18

Avengers Endgame (2019)

Avengers Endgame (2019)

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Sum Guy
Community Member
3 months ago (edited)

That Thor fat suit was flawless... it even had abs

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#19

Avengers: Endgame (2019)

Avengers: Endgame (2019)

Spider-Man, War Machine, and Hulk behind the scenes Avengers: Endgame

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Az
Community Member
3 months ago

Avengers - Pyjama Party

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Other times, it takes never-before-used solutions to come up with something very creative, like the iconic bullet shot in The Matrix where Neo dodges a bullet. This frozen shot was executed by the VFX Supervisor John Gaeta, who worked with the directors and cinematographer to place 122 still cameras around Keanu Reeves before triggering them one by one

#20

The Invisible Man (2020)

The Invisible Man (2020)

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Mohsie Supposie
Community Member
3 months ago

The Green Man (2020)

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#21

Titanic (1997)

Titanic (1997)

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Mohsie Supposie
Community Member
3 months ago

It was all in a tank.

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See Also on Bored Panda
#22

Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

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Sum Guy
Community Member
3 months ago

Well, that's accurate

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#23

Knives Out (2019)

Knives Out (2019)

In Knives Out, Matt Mania (Key Grip) cleverly sculpted mattes to reshape the lighting equipment into scenery you'd realistically expect to see reflected in the glasses.

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Sum Guy
Community Member
3 months ago

It annoyed the heck out of me that everyone wasn't sitting centred with those knives... I get that was the point, but the OCD in me was crying the whole time

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#24

Men In Black (1997)

Men In Black (1997)

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Sum Guy
Community Member
3 months ago

Alot bigger than I would have thought

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.Another iconic VFX shot from The Matrix is the code onscreen, which hadn’t been done before. Gaeta’s idea was to give the audience an impression of what it’d be like to think in code. The team surely succeeded in doing so by making some of the most memorable visual effects ever shown on screen.

#25

I Am Legend (2007)

I Am Legend (2007)

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Saint Thomas
Community Member
3 months ago

They should've kept the guy in green, he's more terrifying than the badly CGI dog.

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#26

Avengers : Infinity War (2018)

Avengers : Infinity War (2018)

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Olivier Caissy
Community Member
3 months ago

The first one looks like a bad cosplay re-enactment.

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#27

Space Jam (1996)

Space Jam (1996)

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engineer_nope.avi
Community Member
3 months ago

My face would be like Mike's if somebody in a green suit comes to me like that.

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#28

Mulan

Mulan

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Mohsie Supposie
Community Member
3 months ago

What?? Even the horse was CGI? At least, use a real horse!

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#29

The Matrix

The Matrix

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로희
Community Member
3 months ago

Didn't really show the tricks?

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#30

Harry Potter

Harry Potter

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Calvin Suzuki
Community Member
3 months ago

Oof

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Note: this post originally had 76 images. It’s been shortened to the top 30 images based on user votes.