Movies take us to a world that is far from reality. With amazing graphics and animation, the world of Hollywood is simply bringing our imagination to the big screens. The truth is that the entire magical world of movies is based on a simple green screen. With the use of CGI and technology, our favorite characters are able to go places that are far beyond the real world.
We know how much this CGI can seem real – but we’re here to show you some behind the scenes photos that will show you the reality behind shooting all of these fictional Hollywood movies.
1. The Matrix
We’ve all seen the matrix and all it’s amazing effects – right? But what if we told you that everything you see is merely a green screen?
While we saw Keanu Reeves as a cyber-criminal who fought non-worldly forces to save humanity, all he actually did was act in front of a big green screen. Since all of the sci-fi fans wanted to see gunshots and people flying through the air, there was not much that the production crew could do apart from installing a bunch of green screens on set. As Reeves kicked and broke imaginary things, the directors were able to create amazing effects through CGI to give us the final result.
2. Hunger Games
The Hunger Games movie franchise brought the entire imaginary world of the books on to the big screen. As we saw Katniss Everdeen and her associates struggle to escape from Panem and its ruthless government, we were treated to some scenes that included modern technology such as surveillance systems and big offices.
While one may think that the crew must have recreated some of that onto their sets to ensure that the actors could act properly, these behind-the-scenes photos reveal something different. By the look of these, we can judge that the tables were completely empty on set – with no switches or handles to operate. The poor actors were just motioning their hands in mid-air.
The Chronicles of Narnia was originally written back in the 1950s – and considering that, all of the imagination that goes into the world of Narnia is pretty remarkable. To pay tribute to C.S. Lewis in the right way when the movie adaptation came out, it was necessary to make use of all the CGI available to the producers in order to recreate his original vision on the big screen.
If you compare what the set looked like to the final version in the movie, you can see that there is much due credit for technology that helped create this perfect look of Narnia.
4. The Wolverine
As any DC fan would agree, recreating the comics of wolverine on to the big screen must have been a difficult task for the production crew. After all, they had to show the transformation of a man into a wolverine with retractable claws and very realistic, deep wounds that heal automatically.
To our surprise, Hugh Jackman portrayed the role of wolverine perfectly and the producers were able to make use of CGI to ensure that every animated bit looked realistic enough to be believable. If you ask us, then we would say that we nearly believed that Jackman really had claws hidden in his hands.
5. The Avengers
The Avengers movies are far from reality – and we all know that. With magical stones to be retrieved to time travelling, there are one too many aspects of this movie that are taken straight from imagination.
However, there is one aspect that is purely a result of CGI – and that is our beloved Hulk. While all other characters like Captain America or Thor have real costumes that are worn by the actors, Hulk doesn’t have a costume at all. Instead, Mark Ruffalo just stands in a CGI suit and pretends to be the big, angry hulk in all of his scenes.
6. I Am Legend
It is no doubt that this thrilling movie had us on our toes the entire time. This scene in specific involved a Darkseeker attacking Will Smith’s character in the movie because the serum given to the infected dog was not very successful in treating it. While the attack seemed extremely violent in the movie, this behind-the-scenes shot reveals that the Darkseeker was nothing more than a puppet controlled by a man in a green suit (which could be eradicated from the movie using the magic of CGI). More photos from the set of I Am Legend revealed that the German Shepherd who dies in the movie is in fact alive and well.
7. Beauty and The Beast
While Beauty and the Beast is a true representation of our dreamy fairytales, the photos from the set just look comical. You would imagine for the set to be a little more magical, but the truth is that all the magic comes from CGI. The renowned Beast from the movie is just a man in a big, padded CGI suit, whereas Emma Watson truly looks like a Disney princess. We totally commend her ability to maintain a straight face alongside her co-actor while shooting the scenes for the movie. How are these actors so talented?
8. Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince
Do you remember the quidditch games from this Harry Potter movie? In terms of cinematics, that scene was perhaps the most difficult to shoot. Since humans cannot actually fly around on broomsticks as shown in the Harry Potter universe, actors were forced to perform their scenes individually during the quidditch event where they acted around green screens. As they were moved around by a rig, the actors were professional enough to act seamlessly to all the attacks and swerves in the air. To our surprise, each actor portrayed their scenes in perfect timing – almost as if they were actually able to fly around and play quidditch.
Since this movie was all about the Persian War, special effects seemed necessary to portray a realistic picture of the era. While we know that CGI was used extensively to create the scenic views that we saw throughout the movie, it is no lie that the producers were careful enough to show every detail to make the viewers experience the movie’s true historical worth. This picture from the movie shows the Persian ruler’s own room to be as spacious as anybody would imagine it would be – and of course, all of the large beast statues were real parts of the set. Notice how the blue screen in the background was carefully used to create the foggy background that added more value to the scene.
10. Wolf of Wall Street
Instead of spending the entire budget of $100 million on travel expenses, the movie producers were smart enough to utilize CGI to show different parts of the world that we saw throughout the movie. From US to Switzerland, almost all the scenic views were created using green screens throughout the movie set which gave a realistic picture of the multiple locations that our beloved actors travelled to. While the behind-the-scenes photos do not look as charming as the movie, we are only glad that the final product seemed realistic enough for us to never question the authenticity of the iconic film.
11. Life of Pi
Being a fantasy adventure movie, Life of Pi used large amounts of CGI to produce the remarkable feature film. The main character, Piscine Molitor “Pi” Patel, was seen living in the middle of the ocean with his only companion, a Bengal tiger. Since the animal was too dangerous to actually have on set, the movie producers strategically used a toy to shoot all the scenes in which the tiger was featured. Later in the post-production stage of the movie, the blue toy was edited into the iconic Richard Parker that we enjoyed seeing on the big screen.
12. Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest
When we heard that Pirates of the Caribbean was coming to the big screen, we could have only imagined what the Flying Dutchman would look like. Thankfully, the actor Bill Nighy did not have to wear layers of makeup to shoot his scenes since CGI took care of all the special effects. The actor only focused on his remarkable acting skills that were enough to make the movie successful. As for all the tentacles on his character’s face, modern technology was able to help the producers by adding animation effects that looked especially realistic throughout the movie.
13. Game Of Thrones
We all love this legendary HBO series, don’t we? As magical as Game of Thrones seemed on the big screen, the sets were far from it. All the battlegrounds and dragons used throughout the series were created using CGI animation, including the incredibly high wall that our beloved characters were forced to climb at multiple points during the series. While it may seem about three hundred feet tall on screen, the set was simply a horizontal white sheet that the actors had to crawl over. The cinematic backgrounds were also created using green screens because it would be impossible to find a real location to shoot this TV series.
14. The Avengers
We know that we mentioned The Avengers movies before on this list, but it was worth mentioning again that most of the fantasy world created by the producers was merely the work of CGI. When Mark Ruffalo replaced Edward Norton to play the Hulk (or Bruce Banner) in 2012, the sets of The Avengers did not change. Ruffalo was acting in a little green costume with mostly a checkered CGI suit to show us the incredible Hulk on-screen. In our opinion, this photo of Hulk fighting with Thor from the set makes us far less scared of the angry creature considering that he is nothing but a little inflated green puppet.
15. Kill Bill
Special effects and green screens are used for more purposes than just creative animation – and this movie represents just that. Uma Thurman was seen fighting the mafia on multiple occasions during the movie as she played Kill Bill, the woman who was off on a mission to avenge the loss of her unborn child. To ensure that the stunt double who fought the mafia in all scenes remained safe from any serious injuries, the production crew attached strings to her entire body. Of course, these strings made her look like a puppet being controlled by a puppet master on the set but the end result in the movie is just a woman fighting one too many people simultaneously in a fearless way.
16. Iron Man
If you think that Robert Downey Jr., the man who played Iron Man for over ten years, had always been walking around set in a weighty metal suit – you are wrong. Instead of putting the actor under the stress of such a heavy costume, the producers used CGI to create his entire suit. Not only was his suit animated, but all other suits in the Iron Man were a work of special effects as well. That includes War Machine, or the sidekick character played by Don Cheadle. No wonder the actors were able to deliver such powerful performances that we thoroughly enjoyed – they were simply shooting in some basic-colored shirts with only their iconic helmets as costumes.
Since flying at the speed of light is obviously impossible to do in reality, a majority of the Superman movie has been created using CGI special effects. While the movie looked magical on-screen, it was particularly bland and boring on the sets. This is a photo from the sets of Superman where the actor is seen acting as if he is flying across the sky, when in reality he was just hanging in the air with multiple strings attached to his body. The reason for the strings is mainly to ensure that the actor remained safe from any injuries while filming.
This photo is from the sets of X-Men: Days of Future Past where Hugh Jackman is seen with a bunch of plastic snakes across his body. The reason behind this costume was to later use special effects to show the Wolverine’s unique regenerating ability of self-healing. Notice the green screen in the background that was used. The entire production of the X-Men film made use of 12 studios and 1,311 special effects shots that used CGI to portray all the amazing scenes shown throughout the movie.
19. Walking Dead
The entire Walking Dead TV series contains the feature of zombies and abandoned places that we all enjoyed. Since TV series have a limited budget, the producers were unable to rent out such vast highways and other parts of the city to shoot the abandoned scenes in which they needed to portray the zombie apocalypse. Thanks to CGI and special effects, the producers were able to give a realistic look to the entire TV series without making it look too over-animated or edited. They only used small vacant spaces and used modern technology to transform them into vast spaces.
20. Infinity War
Whether you saw a 13-year-old at the cinema or a 20-year-old, it is no lie that every person was wondering how Marvel effortlessly created this masterpiece of a movie. The studio was able to portray all the special effects of the movie in a manner that it seemed realistic enough for all viewers – be it the dramatic entry scenes of each superhero or the iconic snap at the end done by Thanos. Speaking of Thanos, it can be noted that the character was the result of CGI because his pink skin and oddly unusual features could not be created with a costume.
21. Game Of Thrones
This specific photo from the sets of Game of Thrones is enough to make us realize the struggle of the actors who were in the iconic TV series. The photo is from a scene where Emilia Clarke’s characters rests on top of a mountain, and her dragon slowly leans on her to be patted like a little pet. Instead of using any real animals for the scene, her dragon was actually just a fluffy, green pillow with a stick attached to the back. While the dragon seemed to have sharp horns and a rough skin on screen, it was merely an adorable little pillow on set.
22. Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Instead of asking Andy Serkis, the actor who played Caesar, to reenact the facial expressions of a chimpanzee, the production crew simply made enough facial scans to transform his look into one of a chimpanzee using special effects. The actor carried out his entire role wearing a CGI suit along with a helmet that contained scanners, and the producers and editors later used this data to transform his appearance into the iconic ape that we know. Even the scenic backgrounds in the movie were filmed as a green screen and later added using special effects technology.
While RoboCop was mainly filmed using the stop motion technique, they also made use of considerable amounts of CGI. The biggest example was the entire suit of the robot himself. Instead of making an actor walk around the set with a heavy metal costume, they only made him wear sunglasses and headgear with a CGI suit. The rest of the detailed features of the robot were later added on a computer screen using the amazing technology of CGI.
24. The Matrix
If you ever wondered how actor Keanu Reeves and his co-star Carrie-Anne Moss were able to seamlessly dodge bullets in their iconic scene in The Matrix, we’re here to break it down for you. The truth is that the entire scene was filmed around a green screen, including two people who had held the actors as they leaned back and dodged the bullets by defying gravity. The support crew on set were holding green sticks to act as support for the actors, and all of these extra people and objects on set were simply removed using computers in the editorial process of the film.
Since Gravity was a movie based around outer space, it was only fitting for the producers to make use of green screens and CGI. While the actual sets of the movie did contain some silly props, most of the scenes we see are a work of special effects. That includes the high-tech space equipment that we see the actors manipulating across the movie – when in reality, the actors were only acting in front of a basic table. The filmmakers also used green screens to later edit scenes of outer space that displayed planets in the background.
26. Mad Max: Fury Road
While this movie may have motivated you to take your own car to the middle of the desert, the actors were far from it. Instead, they only used an automobile prop with green screens everywhere to film the scenes of the characters racing through the dangerous desert. No automobiles were destroyed during the filming of this movie because everything that we saw on screen was merely a work of special effect editing. Although we would have appreciated if the actors traveled to actual sand dunes to shoot the scenes, we certainly understand how it must be extremely costly to transport all filming equipment to such remote areas.
Since there was much to show in the film 300 that was based around the Persian Wars, there were many props and costumes available on the set. However, in order to create the iconic backgrounds where we see many soldiers battling one another, the producers used extensive CGI. A technique called superimposition chroma key was applied in order to make images appear animated – thus giving us the realistic battle look in the film.
28. Infinity War
As we mentioned earlier, Infinity War was truly the Russo Brothers’ masterpiece. The iconic supervillain, Thanos, was created using extensive amounts of CGI and special effects since he was a resident of an imaginary place called Titan and carried a deviant gene that made him the evil genius that he was. Josh Brolin’s expressions were scanned using facial scanner technology that enabled the producers to create a realistic face of the supervillain, alongside of his gigantic body. As a result, Josh Brolin only had to focus on his own expressions as a supervillain and Thanos’ reactions were generated automatically using computer screens.
29. A Good Day to Die Hard
Bruce Willis is well-known for the fame he got for his Die Hard franchise of movies. As the name suggests, the entire film is based around violence and action scenes that are difficult to film without inflicting danger upon the actors or their stunt doubles. To ensure that everybody remained safe during this scene where the actor was supposed to run through multiple explosions, all the blasts and even the chopper was made using CGI and the actor only had to run through a plain area in reality. We should really be thankful to CGI for helping us see the action scenes that we wish for, without actually putting the actors in danger.
30. Life Of Pi
You may think that Life of Pi was an incredible movie because it included scenes from the middle of the Pacific Ocean, but we’re here to tell you some devastating news. All scenes containing the ocean were actually filmed in a swimming pool on set because actually travelling to the Pacific was far from the movie budget. Oh and, even the iconic Bengal tiger was edited in using CGI. So in reality, the actor was just standing on top of a fake boat in a swimming pool with an imaginary tiger and acting out his scenes perfectly.
31. Boardwalk Empire
This crime drama TV series may have had a limited budget, but they certainly knew how to make the best use of their resources. The producers outsourced their special effects to a company that was able to represent Atlantic City during the prohibition era in an extremely accurate way. It is reported that they used hundreds of old photographs, architectural blueprints, and any other sources that they could find to create an accurate scene. All of this data was then merged on to the green screens to give us the final product that we saw on our TV screens. Notice the difference between the photo from the set and the photo from the show – we are truly in awe.
Titanic may have been based on a real story, but there was no way that the film’s $200 million budget would suffice to actually hire a boat to shoot the film. Instead, the actors were made to act around green screens and elevated platforms in order to recreate the scenic views of the Titanic. There were no actual boat props on set, and even this iconic scene on the edge of the ship was simply a platform on set with a crew member holding a mic near the actors. One can only wonder how the actors make these scenes look so realistic on the big screen.
33. The Avengers
We know that we have mentioned The Avengers enough already, but we had to dedicate a separate part to talk about all the unique action scenes in these movies. Since the fight scenes are not limited to being on land but even include air, the sea, and multiple explosions, the use of CGI becomes necessary. Apart from acting around green screens and computer-generated images to portray realistic backgrounds, the actors also have to ensure that their scenes are in perfect coordination with the sound effects being presented.
Tron is a world of fiction – and that is created only through CGI. Apart from basic special effects, the producers had to make use of backlit animation in order to give a realistic appeal to the film. That is why the entire story based around the software of a mainframe computer seems oddly real – the cast and crew spent many hours in the editorial process where they used CGI to create futuristic scenes and even added appropriate sound effects to match the entire vibe of the movie.
35. Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix
The library scene in this movie had us imaging such a whimsical library for the longest of time – but these photos from the set put all of our dreams away. Instead of floating books, the sets actually had people wearing green gloves who held out each book as Hermione walked through the corridors. The least we could have wished is for these green hands to belong to some unearthly creature like the rest of the Harry Potter villains, but they are simply the hands of people in the cast and crew of the film.
If you ever want a realistic representation of the advancement of modern technology, just compare the two Godzilla movies that Hollywood has blessed us with. The monster has evolved in ways that make it look far more realistic in 2014 as it did in 1954 – all thanks to CGI and special effects. The producers actually studied the behavior of many animals before creating the final look of Godzilla and it can be easily said that they were incredibly accurate in portraying a realistic-looking monster.
37. The Dark Knight
The scene where half of Harvey Dent’s face is scarred in a gross way is one of the most iconic scenes of The Dark Knight. While we may have appreciated the use of makeup to portray this effect, the producers actually opted for CGI and special effects to make their jobs simpler. The actor shot the entire scene with multiple sensors on the left side of his face, and the burnt effect was later added using computer editing.
38. Iron Man
While we know that Iron Man’s costume was a work of CGI throughout the Iron Man franchise, we still wonder how they were able to create all the technological products created by Tony Stark himself. In this picture from the set, we see that the superhero does not even have to stand on a rooftop to film the end of his iconic flying-through-the-air scenes. Instead, he just stands amidst a few green screens and CGI takes care of the rest by animating the entire scene to perfection.
39. Guardians Of The Galaxy
Here is another Marvel movie that never failed to amaze us with its special effects – Guardians of the Galaxy. The best part about this movie is that it contained small characters such as Rocket, who was merely a raccoon. Sean Gunn, the actor who did all the scenes for Rocket’s character on set, was usually seen laying low on the floor and being patted by fellow actors as if he were actually a domestic pet. Scenes that seemed extremely serious to us on the big screen were probably comical for the actors who were shooting it, especially considering that the actor had to be dressed in an all-green bodysuit.
40. Space Jam
Every kid in the world wishes for their cartoons to be real, and to have the opportunity of meeting them someday. However, when Michael Jordan met Bugs Bunny during the filming of Space Jam, the filming was quite awkward. Since cartoon characters don’t actually exist, the role of Bugs Bunny was portrayed by a man dressed in a green bodysuit and was even the same size as the basketball player himself. We cannot even imagine how odd it must be to shoot the entire movie with such a scenario on set.
41. The Hobbit
As The Hobbit acted as a predecessor to the Lord of the Rings franchise, it was only fitting for it to incorporate as much CGI and special effects as its ancestor. While the movie was actually shot in New Zealand to have some realistic scenes, most of the scenic backgrounds we see are merely just a green screen that projects animated photos into the movie. This magical mountain, for instance, was actually just a green screen on a closed set with some lights.
42. The Hobbit
Here is another fun scene from The Hobbit that was worth mentioning on this list. Here, Gandalf and Galadriel stand in a corner of their castle which opens into a forest with a mountainous background. To our surprise, except for the little wooden structure, everything in this scene was a green screen. However, the director Peter Jackson was careful enough to use special effects that portrayed a realistic image and even included the pinnacle of the castle in the corner of the shot.
43. Alice in Wonderland
Before this iconic movie was released, many people were concerned regarding the accuracy it would provide to the timeless tale especially since there would be extensive use of CGI. However, to everyone’s surprise, the end product of Alice in Wonderland was realistic enough for us to believe that the entire story could actually happen in real life. While the producers were intelligent enough to create the whimsical staircase on set, they strategically used green screens to portray the rest of the magical atmosphere of the scene – including the gigantic tree with some particularly eye-catching flowers. Such attention to detail is what makes CGI appear more realistic to the human eye.
44. Avengers: Infinity War
Do you remember the Battle of Wakanda where we saw our beloved Avengers and their associate fight off an entire army of aliens? Well, people were actually fighting on set – but just not in the massive amount that we saw on screen. There was a total of 70 extras present on set who acted as the aliens and other fighters, but Marvel was able to increase this number to 500 using special effects in the post-production process. They even added 10,000 digital aliens to the scene to enhance the battle-like effect, and we surely thought it was realistic enough.
45. District 9
Despite District 9 being released back in 2009, they were still able to make use of green screens and special effects to portray the dystopian world shown throughout the movie. Each alien that was shown on Earth was just a man in a grey suit with CGI sensors all over him to track his movements. Later in post-production, professional editors were able to transform the grey clothes into massive aliens with their robot-like bodies.
46. Twilight Saga: Eclipse
The Twilight movies certainly had us all hooked. They showed a war between the vampires and the wolves – one that involved all sorts of emotions, including love and friendship. Since it is impossible to actually create flying vampires or make humans shapeshift effortlessly, the producers made extensive use of CGI to bring the books’ vision to the big screen. This photo from the set shows how the wolf was just a man in a grey suit acting like an animal and being patted on the head. While it seems comical as a behind-the-scenes photo, the end result is quite impressive.
47. Alice in Wonderland
There are far too many incredible scenes in Alice in Wonderland for us to only mention it once. Here, we have a photo from the set where Tweedledee and Tweedledum are shown. While everybody thought that the two characters were entirely computer-generated, they were actually played by Matt Lucas who had to walk around the set in a fat suit that made it easier to transform him into a big, imaginary character in the editing process.
48. The Great Gatsby
Apart from the criticism that this literary classic received with its on-screen adaptation, there is no denying that the visual effects used throughout the movie were astonishing. While watching the movie, one truly feels as if they have time travelled back into the 1920s to experience New York the way it was back then. The producers used actual images from the past to recreate these scenes, and a majority of the film was shot in front of massive green screens with a few props on set.
49. Game of Thrones
Here is our last pick from the Game of Thrones series: a scene where Ygritte had fallen off the massive ice wall in the north. Since it would have been impossible to actually film this scene on an ice glacier, the producers made use of a simple green screen to portray the effect of an ice wall without inflicting any danger upon actress Rose Leslie. Even the snowstorm was added in the editing process using special effects – but in our opinion, it looks very realistic.
50. Oz, The Great And Powerful
The visual effects supervisor of this film, Scott Stokdyk, has actually said in his interviews that this was the most challenging special effects project that he had ever worked on. The main reason behind this is that the director Sam Raimi has a specialty for paying attention to detail – and each scene in the movie had specific special effects that were created individually. While the scenes were filmed in front of a blue screen, the actor still did a remarkable job in showing some genuine facial expressions.