Movies are artistic works that are far vaster than most people ever realize. They combine visual composition, color work, writing, music, performance, and a nearly endless list of other things that all come together for your viewing pleasure. And even though there are a seemingly endless number of things to look at when you watch a film, there are always things so tiny or fleeting that you are likely to miss. Oftentimes movies are made to look more detailed through digital wizardry, but sometimes you get movies made by people who love the art of cinema so much, they put their heart and hours of their lives into giving these movies details you’ll never know about unless you happen to be a huge cinephile.
In 1933, visual effects were really rudimentary, but that didn’t stop filmmakers from pursuing their cinematic visions. When splicing together footage of the model King Kong and full-sized human actors, footage of the actors had to be projected frame by frame on to the footage of the models. A single minute of animation could take up to 150 hours to put together.
The prequel trilogy to the original Star Wars films relied heavily on computer generated effects, but not exclusively. For instance, in the pod-racing scene the stands seem to be filled with a bustling collection of amazing creatures. While the close-ups used CGI, the long shots were created with the help of model maker Michael Lynch. Over 450,000 Q-tips were colored and inserted into a wire mesh frame – fans blew air at them from underneath the model to make it look like moving characters in the wide perspective.
When Robert DeNiro took on the role of famous gangster Al Capone, he wanted his portrayal to be as realistic as possible. To make sure he got the look right, he enlisted the help of Capone’s actual tailors to make exact copies of all of the crime bosses suits to wear during the movie.
The infamous auteur Stanley Kubrick was known for his attention to detail and his need for authenticity. In his 1975 film Barry Lyndon, Kubrick insisted that the film’s visuals would be ruined if he had to ruin his 18th century set with artificial light. So that he could light the set solely by candle light, he used the high speed 50mm camera lenses NASA developed to film the moon landings which subsequently added fuel to the notion that Kubrick was instrumental in the supposed fakery of the Apollo missions to the moon.