Sure, it’s not like moviemakers today have it easy, exactly, when it comes to making the impossible seem real on the big screen. I mean, they do have the advantages that come with technology, but a lot of those advantages are really complicated and labor intensive. Back in the early days of film, movies still produced awe-inspiring, how-did-they-do-that stunts…but how?
Well, Reddit user Auir2blaze is here to show you, with a pretty thorough compilation of GIFs, along with a little insight into how they made that classic movie magic in the old days.
#4. The Black Pirate (1926)
Douglas Fairbanks appeared to slide down the sail with a knife, but how?
Well, Fairbanks had a brother named Robert, who happened to be an engineer. He advised that the camera and sail be placed at an angle, and then Fairbanks’s knife be connected to a pulley/counterweight system. Last, they employed airplane propellers to create the billowing wind.
#3. Ella Cinders (1926)
The creepy eye trick pulled off by actress Colleen Moore surely freaked out moviegoers, but of course, she didn’t learn how to move her eyes independently of each other!
They used a matte shot and filmed the two halves of her face separately. Which means, basically, that a half a piece of glass was painted black and placed in front of the camera, exposing only one side of the film. Then, they wound the film back and switched it. In order to achieve the effect, neither the camera nor Moore’s face could shift at all.
#2. Modern Times (1936)
Charlie Chaplin might be roller skating through an actual department store, but he’s probably not….
The background for the shot was painted on a piece of glass that was then placed in front of the camera – glass matte painting.
#1. Safety Last! (1923)
It would be super cool if Harold Lloyd was actually hanging off this clock, but it probably wouldn’t be the safest way to handle an actor’s life on set.
Back in the day, there was no rear projection or green screen (how the effect would be achieved today), so instead the silent filmmakers used a trick of perspective. The set was built the right height for Lloyd’s climb, but on the roof of a building. As the actor climbed higher, the set was moved to taller and taller buildings.
If you want more, you can see the entire album on Imgur.
h/t: Twisted Sifter
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