The VFX artists behind Corridor Crew break down good & bad effects in 6 movie fight scenes

Meredith Geaghan-Breiner,Ally Giannini
·31 min read
  • In this collaboration with Corridor Crew, we linked up with Niko Pueringer, Wren Weichman, and Clinton Jones, hosts of the "VFX Artists React" series on YouTube, and asked them to analyze the visual effects and CGI in six iconic action sequences.

  • Niko, Wren, and Clint react to a few of Hollywood's most memorable fight scenes, from the final confrontation of the "Matrix" trilogy to Wesley Snipes' face-off with vampire ninjas in "Blade II."

  • Highlighting both good and bad digital effects in each scene, they break down the principles of VFX in motion. 

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Wren: That gun is my favorite part of the shot though.

Clint: Dude, it's so frickin' cool. Wren: It's like, that is good design right there.

Hi, everybody. My name's Niko. Hey, and I'm Wren. And I'm Clint. Niko: And we do a show on the Corridor Crew YouTube channel called "VFX Artists React," where we break down some of the coolest and perhaps some of the worst visual effects shots that are done in movies, TV, and all that good media that you consume. Today, we're gonna be breaking down some of the best and worst visual effects fight scenes for Insider.

Clint: Let's jump in.

Niko: There is a taste of one of the signature effects of "Blade II" here. Not the vampire disintegration, but the digital doubles.

Wren: That was what I was noticing. It was cleanly going back and forth between, like, actual, real people fighting on set to a digi-double, but I didn't particularly see the transition. Oh, it's 'cause there wasn't a transition.

Clint: No, no, it's a new -- it's just a new shot.

Wren: And a digi-double jumps off of his back. And you can notice he doesn't bend at all.

Niko: [laughs] He has no reaction from him on it. Clint: I get what they're going for. It's like these ninjas are -- well, they're vampire ninjas, for one. They're superhuman, and they're light as a feather, and they're silent as night. But still, like, when you got this frickin' Gumby-looking effect coming off his shoulder....

Wren: Real quick. What do you mean by "Gumby effects"?

Clint: It's just this, like, lanky little amorphous little eraser thing. [all laughing] I don't know. Like, they're flying through the air and it's like there's no sense of gravity or weight.

Wren: Once she is in the air, I feel like she's falling at the correct gravitational rate.

Niko: I agree, yeah.

Wren: So I think it actually is pretty good as far as the animation of her flight path. In this next shot here, Wesley Snipes jumps off the cabinet, but at the very beginning, that's not a real Wesley Snipes there, and he immediately jumps off. And you can kind of see how he has a very quick motion. It's a little inhuman. He can't accelerate that fast just off of the force of one leg. Although, they did get the motion of the cabinet good. Someone probably yanked it, yeah.

Clint: You wanna have as much real-world reaction to your CG stuff as possible, and this is a really good example of that.

Wren: They're getting the contact shadows and the reflections really well between the CG characters and the ground. And they have the perfect reference, because they actually shoot the scene for real in some of these shots.

Clint: Yeah, and especially when you have your main actor, Wesley, who is actually a legit martial artist. He's actually really good at martial arts. So you can see he's able to pull off some of these moves, you know.

Wren: There was a shot here that really caught my eye. It was when they were both against the backlight and they're just kind of jumping over each other.

Clint: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Right here.

Wren: That, yeah.

Clint: Here we go. They're trying to cram too many spins into this. Just the one too many.

Niko: This second shot, in my opinion, is the least realistic shot, right here. They move like they're in a Pixar film.

Clint: Agreed.

Niko: Especially his little pop-up at the end there.

Clint: It's the Gumby. It's the whip, zip, whip. It's, like, 15% stylized, like 15% too much sauce.

Niko: To this day, the greatest challenge right now is animation, in my opinion.

Clint: Agreed.

Wren: Basically, they're using what are called key frames to hand-animate, like you would, like, a puppet or whatever. They're doing that here, but digitally.

Niko: So, if you had to do this shot again today, you might use a little bit more motion capture. But, end of the day, an artist still has to go in and generally tweak things by hand.

Wren: Like, it's literally the exact same process back then as it is today for something like this.

Niko: There's a bit of historical context that's actually super important here. This is 2002. "The Matrix" came out in 1999, and we are still hot on the tails of, like, "Matrix" fever. Everybody's doing bullet time. Everybody's doing slow motion. And with "Blade II," they were like, "We have something that's even better than bullet time." And that was their digital doubles. They're stretching it out, but for the time, it's pretty dang good.

Wren: This is far better than in "Captain America: Civil War" when Black Panther does that little, like, spinning kick, and he's like, [mimics sound of kick] and then he quickly falls to the ground.

[weapon whooshing] [T'Challa shouting]

Clint: That is buff Jesse Eisenberg!

Niko: We're gonna try to pinpoint every time there's a hidden cut in this one-take fight scene.

Clint: Starting with the gunshot.

Wren: This is one shot, and we're transitioning to a new shot here.

Niko: One. That was a transition, in my opinion. Yeah. That's probably a CG railing or, you know, banister right there that we've moved through. The camera would physically have to move through it.

Wren: This dude here's a digi-double.

Niko: I don't think it's a digital double. I think it's retimed performance.

Wren: Oh, you know what? That's exactly it.

Clint: So, we actually had the stunt performer who played "Black Panther" come to our studio and give us a little lowdown on how to fall. One of the things he said was you wanna start in the ready position with your knees bent, hunched over, ready to jump so you're not standing up straight, and then you go, "All right, here we go." [grunts] You're already ready to go. Let's see if he's in the ready position.

Niko: Almost, almost.

Clint: Kind of, kind of. Yeah. So, maybe he wasn't ready enough to, like, go right into it and he had to get that wind-up, which they were trying to cut out.

Niko: Get ready for No. 2.

Clint: Yeah, here it comes. Masked by the banister.

Niko: Oh, right there, two. And then...three, right there by the by the extras, with a wipe. And boom. Wipe. Four. Five.

Wren: Yeah.

Clint: With the banister. That is Andy Serkis, isn't it?

Wren: Yeah, it is. We got Gollum and we got Bilbo in here.

[arm blasts] [T'Challa shouts]

Wren: OK. I think that was another transition right there, because that was, like, a full effects shot there.

Niko: You know, he could be picking up a real thing then. And then the moment it explodes, there's a cut there, and you're going to a CG cabinet or whatever exploding. You're going to a CG Chadwick Boseman flying back through the railing. I think it's a real guy going through the railing.

Wren: Well, there's at least a CG version of him flying through the air. And maybe it's a stunt right at the last moment, when he actually hits the thing. What do you think of the debris?

Clint: I think it looks fine at first, but look at the paper by his hand. Look at it by his hand, right there.

Niko: Yes, I agree. The paper's a little weird.

Wren: I don't see enough of them, like, spinning.

Clint: "Rush Hour 2."

Niko: With all, like, the money in the air or something?

Clint: Yeah, yeah, yeah, the [mimics action]. Oh, yeah, yeah. OK, here's the reference, "Rush Hour 1."

Wren: That's realistic-looking paper.

Niko: That's how it happens when money's in the air. Very spinny, very flickery.

Wren: I feel like I wanna see more dust. There is no dust in this explosive shot at all. Like, normally, when something explodes, yeah, you get all the big pieces of debris flying away, but you also get a lot of microparticulates. But the problem is that all of that dust would obscure the background and the stunt of him hitting the ground. So I think it was a very intentional decision to not put that dust in there, so that you can actually see through the explosion and him hitting the pool table.

Clint: Dang, dude, you're a frickin' mad scientist. I think you're exactly right. That makes so much sense.

Niko: I mean, you can see the dust from the pool table when that breaks, for example.

Clint: Yeah, exactly. Which looks really nice.

[Niko mimics explosion]

Klaue: You look just like your old man.

Wren: That gun is my favorite part of the shot, though.

Clint: Dude, it's so frickin' cool. Wren: It's like, that is good design right there. For that effect to have to happen, they have to literally paint out his arm. If his arm is blocking, you know, the camera and you wanna remove the arm, now you're having to fill back in the face.

Niko: So all the tight pattern work on the window behind his arm, when they're putting the patches back in to cover up the spots where they're erasing his arm, they're having to match all those lines and the perspective and the motion blur.

Clint: There's one other thing I wanna bring up. Go back to the beginning of the one-take. All right, Niko. All right, Wren. I want your harshest opinions. Right there, done. Stop.

Niko: Those muzzle flashes?

Clint: Yeah, go back.

Wren: Oh, we're looking at the muzzle flashes?

Niko: Yeah. Oh, man. You know, how can a movie this big have the jankiest muzzle flashes still?

Clint: By the way, guys, just to let you know, Niko is the muzzle-flash master.

Niko: What is smoke? Well, what is fire? In fact, fire and smoke are the same particles. Fire is those particles when they're heated up and emitting photons 'cause they're hot. And then they cool, and it turns to smoke. Well, what do we see here?

Wren: I see fire and smoke!

Niko: I see fire and smoke at the same time! That's impossible! So, here's the other thing. All right, in one frame, these particles of burning gunpowder have gone from the chamber where the bullet was all the way to about, maybe, eight inches out in front of the gun. So in one frame, we've gone maybe 16 inches. If we're maintaining the same velocity, in the next frame, it should be 32 inches out from the front of the gun. Oh, but we just advanced another two inches, at most, with the smoke. So somehow the smoke is moving at the speed of, like, a slow punch. You just get the weakest punch coming out of the gun.

Clint: You know, it looks like, the smoke looks like those comped-in cold-breath effects.

Wren: That being said, this movie is notorious for having a really tight timeline to do all the effects.

Clint: We're going in harsh, right? We're going in harsh. We're explaining, "Oh, this should look like this, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah." But, like, the artists, they probably know all that already. And they're doing the best they can with the time they have. So, Niko, why wouldn't they have just done the gun practically?

Niko: So, that's a really good question. And, you know, it totally makes sense. Why don't they use blank-firing guns on a set like this? It's a big movie, can't they afford it? I've filmed with blanks before. The thing about blank-firing guns is they are actually still real guns, and they still make a lot of noise. So when you are doing blanks on set -- look at this set. You have a bunch of extras in this shot. So every single person there would have to have earplugs on or ear protection on. Potentially, some people are having to wear eye protection. Plus, you still have a zone in front of a gun that shoots a blank that's deadly.

Wren: That still has energy, and that energy can kill you.

Klaue: I made it rain! [laughs]

Wren: We're gonna look at the chat-ee-uh fight.

Clint: The chat-ee-uh? It's pronounced "cha-too-ya-who."

Niko: [laughs] Château fight.

[mimicking action soundtrack]

Wren: "Matrix" fights have a certain aesthetic to them. It's all about the ballet dance, you know? It's not about, like, the actual fighting mechanics of, like....

Niko: There's a lot of, like, arms bent, elbows back, and, like, punching in from the sides. Especially in the first "Matrix," every fight starts with bop, bop, bop. And then it goes from there.

[Clint mimics punch sounds] [firearms banging]

Wren: This is an example of firing blanks, then, right?

Niko: Yeah. Wren: Yeah.

Clint: Look at the guy's face. He's like, [mimics firearms]. Into his chest and bicep, you can see the actual energy of the blank-firing gun.

Wren: Are they wearing ear protection?

Niko: Oh, yeah. Definitely.

Wren: You can't see it.

Clint: Roto'd out? Or....

Niko: It's probably --

Clint: No, you can see it.

Niko: It's flesh-colored earplugs, most likely.

Wren: So, but, like, those bullet casings flying out too, those are real?

Niko: Mm-hmm. Clint: Yeah.

Niko: Definitely. They're hot.

Wren: So, the bullets are obviously CG. Wait. But then that shot of the bullets hitting the ground is real. You think?

Niko: Oh, yeah. Definitely.

Wren: Yeah, yeah. That's real. The thing about all of this fight here, though, is that it's all real.

Clint: Yep.

Wren: None of this is CG. However, that doesn't mean there are no visual effects here. Do you know why that is?

Niko: Because it's a movie? [laughs]

Wren: No, it's wirework! There are tons of wires suspending them from the ceiling, so that they're able to actually float around. And the effects work is going into removing all of those wires.

Clint: Oh, that's so sick.

Wren: God, that sword's, like, actually there. Like, probably stuck to some sort of chest piece under his clothing. That's my favorite shot! The way his legs come up as he's diving off of the thing with a sword, like, ugh.

Niko: Is it hard to paint out wires?

Wren: It can be easy if you have, like, a really uniform background. But if you have a complex background, especially if you have a person behind the wires, it can become a bit of a process. I mean, they probably had a pretty decent-sized team here. At least probably five or six people just doing wire removal on this.

Clint: For sure.

Niko: You can see the wires in another shot from the first "Matrix," when he does the backflip away from the train and he goes, "My name...is Neo."

Wren: So, I guess this is a type of dagger called a sai. How did they have them fly off the wall and into his hands? At first, that first shot there, I was like, oh, they probably just had the dagger on there with, like, some fishing line and just tugged it off the wall.

Niko: It's definitely CG. Look at the way it's comped in, the way the motion blur works. The way it's shiny and picking up light as it moves.

Clint: The dim highlight streaks?

Niko: Yeah. And you can see a pop in the background.

Wren: Yeah. So the first shot there, on the left, it probably started, they probably actually had a real dagger hung up on the wall, and then they cut to the clean plate where the dagger is not there and a CG dagger has replaced it, flying through the air. So, that's nice because it's a good transition point. It's an impact point that you can transition from the real blade to the CG blade, because now it's in motion. And the first time we see the CG blade, it's got full motion blur going on.

Clint: It's masked by the motion blur.

Wren: Yeah. I bet he's actually spinning those blades. That's a move that a real person can do.

Niko: Also, if you watch it slowly, the only really complicated thing's the little loop on his fingers. He literally just takes them and goes, huh, huh. Holds them out and brings them in. Yeah, there's no CG doubles here. There's no, like, CG destruction. You know, the wires being painted out, and that's basically it.

Clint: And the bullets.

Niko: And the bullets, of course.

Wren: You know, it's funny, 'cause it's like, there's no CG doubles in this scene, but this is also the same movie that has the burly brawl. There is a whole sequence where, like, literally 100 digital characters are all fighting.

Merovingian: OK. You have some skill.

[explosion whooshing]

Niko: This is the closest thing to a "Dragon Ball Z" fight in real life.

Wren: Yeah, that was exactly what I was gonna say. That's why I dug this so much. This is like -- this isn't a superhero film. This is a "Dragon Ball Z" film.

Clint: Yeah, exactly.

Wren: 'Cause it's like, "Man of Steel" kind of did this with, like, Zod, I think was his name. But I feel like this one had the style to back it up.

Niko: You might think that they're doing CG doubles for a lot of this, but they actually put both Keanu Reeves and Hugo Weaving on something called a tuning fork, which is this long pole and then hooked up to a little thing on their waist that they could just spin them around on.

Clint: Can you imagine friggin' Hugo Weaving attached to this thing for days on end? Just like, "Oh, boy." [all laugh] Wren: Like, "I didn't have to do this when I was Elrond!"

Niko: So, a lot of this stuff is tuning-fork performance, then there are some CG-double shots. So, like, that was probably a tuning fork. And then here, whoop!

Wren: Yeah, CG.

Niko: CG. And you can just tell from the animation. [mimicking explosion] This is damn good CG for the time this came out.

Wren: Yeah. Oh, my God. And now they're gonna have a five-minute philosophical conversation.

Clint: Oh, here it comes.

Wren: There it is. [Clint mimics action] So, the first thing to note here is that from beginning to end, the entirety of this shot is computer-generated. There is no plate photography from the moment this shot starts. Both Agent Smith and Neo are full CG. All the water-simulation stuff going on, his face, the skin morphing around the punch, fist, the imprints left on, even the discoloration of his skin.

Niko: But when you're like, "OK, I need to get Hugo Weaving's face to deform after it gets punched." It's not like Adobe's like, "Well, here's the plug-in for Hugo Weaving face deformations." [all laughing] That stuff doesn't exist, so -

Wren: Come on, Adobe! [chuckles]

Niko: You know, coders and software engineers and artists have to get together and basically create the tools to just be able to do a shot like this from scratch. It's like going to make a car, but you start off with, like, raw iron ore, and now you need to turn it into metal somehow.

Wren: This is such a hero shot, too. Like, I don't think we've seen a digi-double this close up in any of the "Matrix" movies.

Niko: This is a film-history shot here.

Wren: And it's like, you can tell that they're CG. Here, I think the thing that kind of fails a little bit is just the age of the rendering engine. It's the rendering of the skin that's really kind of hard to master.

Clint: It kind of has, like, a clay look to it almost. Wren: Yeah. You know, it's kind of lacking a little bit of that subsurface scattering.

Niko: The water droplets are a little low-detail.

Wren: They're, like, this long, and that's not how waterdrops look. They have a teardrop shape.

Niko: Surface tension keeps the water from being able to hold shapes like that.

Wren: Yeah. But when you do rain in a shot, you have motion blur, so the rain always comes out as, like, these long, white strips. And I think it was probably just -

Clint: A lot cooler if they're just these chunky, long water drops as opposed to these little tiny things.

Wren: 'Cause there's reality, and then there's Hollywood reality. And Hollywood reality is basically just what you expect something to look like. The reason why I feel like a shot like this doesn't work is because he's punching him so hard, he is flying maybe 20 feet backwards and colliding with a rock wall hard enough to make it shatter. If that was to actually have the sort of impact to be able to do that, he'd be there in less than a single frame. He'd be like, kaboom! In this shot, it takes maybe 24 frames for him to go there.

Clint: Also, you can see him go like, [mimics movement].

Wren: And that's the other thing, is that, like, he actually has some up and down motion. Like, [mimics movement]. It doesn't really work.

Niko: So, what's most likely happening is there's a stuntman here that's on wires flying back into some sort of pad or something like that, meaning they had to cover up that pad. And if you look in the background, if you look at the bottom, there's, it almost looks like a face. You see, like, the two rocks -

Wren: It's a repeated pattern! I see it, I totally see it!

Niko: Some artist has gone in and taken a patch of the footage and duplicated it off this side.

Wren: Yeah. But this happens so quickly. You're like, you can't tell.

Clint: Yeah, there's no way. Yeah, could you imagine being in theaters and being like, "Wait a second! Hold on! Friggin' they clone-stamped it!"

[all laughing] [Agent Smith crackling]

Clint: All right, so this is the final fight from "Justice League." Let's take a look and see what they got. Full CG'd Batman.

Wren: BatAffleck. Batfleck. Baffleck. [crickets chirping]

Clint: Full CG. It's, like, so much CG.

Wren: So....

Clint: It's - oh, man.

Wren: It's interesting, 'cause it....

Clint: If everything was just full CG, it'd be great. But when I see a real person, it takes me out of it. Like, "Oh, that's one big green screen."

Niko: Yeah, it's definitely hitting that whole, like, we shot this with a real camera, but everything is fake at this point except for, like, the one actor in the shot. [all laughing]

Clint: They just look so goofy, dude. There's a weird blend of, like -

Wren: It's 'cause his lip doesn't move at all. It's like -- like, put your lip here, and it's like, "I prefer justice." [all laughing] And, like, that's the very famous reason for it. Studios fighting over, like -

Clint: Mustache contracts?

Wren: It's a thing. They had to deal with it. But everything we're seeing here is computer-generated. Like, literally everything. They're completely shot on a green-screen stage, and so there's a disconnect. So, when, like, Cyborg and Steppenwolf land here, this is all still 100% CG.

Niko: Including Cyborg.

Wren: Including Cyborg, exactly.

Niko: You can tell by the motion.

Clint: Yeah, when he looks over. It's very, like, [mimics motion sound]. You know?

Wren: But then it looks at these two kids in the back of a pickup truck, and it's like, wow, that's obviously real. But everything else around is not. It's confusing our brains subconsciously. Looking at this slo-mo punch scene, it's just... the beginning of it kind of confuses me, because Superman comes from frame left into the shot, and I couldn't tell if he was CG or not right away. There's something about the look of his hair and ear that just looks CG to me at first. Like, even right here.

Niko: Well, there's no shadow of the fist on his face.

Clint: It's like the matte-clay kind of effect.

Niko: Look at how dark the ring finger is, of Steppenwolf, when it's by Henry Cavill's face. Right when it's brushing his nose. That's how dark the bottom of Henry Cavill's nose should be. That's how dark the front of his lips should be.

Wren: I mean, you're totally right.

Niko: They're all occupying the same space right there. And then, just immediately, your brain goes, "Yeah, something's weird."

Clint: The gag is that we got really close, and he nicked him, barely. And the shadow would bring his face and this fist visually closer together.

Niko: Dude, compared to the "Matrix" punch. This whole sequence really speaks to one of the challenges in the VFX industry. The level of rendering, like, it's so high quality. The people that are doing this are so good at it. But the problem is they're working with footage that they had, like, five minutes on set to grab, or, you know, a script that never quite got finished. And they're doing their best, but you just get this really weird, like, why is my car painted in gold but there's, like, a V-4 engine in the car?

Clint: For sure. Yeah.

Niko: You know, it's like....

Clint: It's the polished-turd thing, is what you're saying.

Niko: Yeah, it's the polished-turd thing. I hate to say it. And it's such a weird imbalance, and it kind of speaks to the weird nature of filmmaking. What are you laughing at?

Wren: Batman! [weapon pews]

Clint: He was like, [grunts]. And this little, like, energy was like, pew!

Wren: It's such a jarring cut. 'Cause it's like, you have these superheroes doing incredibly cool stuff, and then it's like, oh, yeah, Batman's here, and he's just like.... The visual effects are weak in certain areas but very strong in others. Like, the whole bridge-collapse moment is great. The dust flying out, everything crunching and crumbling and moving around. When Cyborg here gets lifted up, I do like the rendering of this shot.

Clint: Yeah, yeah, yeah. It looks super cool. When he gets, like, torn in half.

Wren: Yeah, exactly. And the light reflecting up from down below, like, it looks very good.

Steppenwolf: Now do you see it?

[helicopter blades whirring]

Wren: I think that's a real shot.

Niko: I think so too.

Clint: So, first off, that is incredible. You know, that's just two dudes.

Wren: And they specifically put stuff in the foreground to kind of show you that they're shooting from the ground. All right. So, the crazy thing about this scene is how much of it was actually real. They had 1,500 extras in this plaza, and they had two helicopters flying around. One was a stunt helicopter, which, actually, the main helicopter you're seeing, it is the Red Bull helicopter.

Niko: Oh, really? I have seen the Red Bull helicopter.

Wren: Yeah. With a paint job that actually makes it look like a military helicopter. The big asterisk here is that all of those stunts, with the helicopter doing barrel rolls and flips, were not shot here. So, basically, everything I'm gonna say from here on out is kind of speculation. But they literally physically could not do that there, because this is Mexico City, with an elevation of 7,500 feet. Helicopters can obviously fly around in Mexico City, but they can't do these sort of stunts, because the air is too thin and they don't have the force to be able to come out of a barrel roll. So they actually had to film those barrel rolls and flips and stuff somewhere else and CG in the city.

Niko: So, the helicopter's real, but the entire background's fake?

Wren: Yes.

[dramatic music] [helicopter blades whirring]

The background is fake, but not in the CGI sort of fake. It's probably real plate photography that they captured on set and they're just animating in the background.

Niko: The quickest path to realism in visual effects is to use all real elements for your shots. If you have a real helicopter and a real picture of Mexico City and you stick them on top of each other, the shot's gonna look real. You know, at least most of it.

Wren: But there are shots where you can clearly see the helicopter doing a barrel roll above a bunch of people. No matter how safe you're being, that is still irresponsibly dangerous. And so for that, they use crowd simulations, where they actually CG in tons of people. And in some of these wide shots, you can kind of see it, 'cause you kind of see the running animation in some of the people when they're really small, running away.

Clint: Like little RollerCoaster Tycoon animation people.

Wren: Yeah. [dramatic music]

Wren: They actually built a separate helicopter on a rig, on a different set, on hydraulics, that could actually, like, move around like this.

Clint: So it's like a fun Universal ride.

Wren: Exactly. And so that's all practical in that sense. We are dealing with green screen.

Niko: That stuff screams CG.

Wren: It's the close-ups, the external close-ups.

Niko: Oof, it's rough.

Wren: It's the weakest point, for sure.

Clint: The rest was just fantastic. Yeah.

Niko: It has the same exact problem that Wolverine on the helicopter had, which is the helicopter's spinning, but the sunlight is not.

Wren: That's the key thing.

Niko: Look at his face. He's lit from the left side the entire time, even though the helicopter's spinning. Like, they should have thrown a big old light on a stick and spun it around the set. In the outside shot, there's no shadow on them whatsoever from the rotor, 'cause the rotor is spinning so fast and becomes so thin that it casts barely any shadow. But here in this close-up shot, it's just like, on, off; on, off; on, off. Really intense.

Wren: You know what? I wonder if, maybe, they didn't have it to begin with. They could see the background, it was clearly comped, and they were like, "How can we make this better?" And they were like, "Well, maybe we can add this flickering and it'll make it a little bit more hectic."

Niko: That's true. Because a big chunk of visual effects is the sleight of hand. It's the little bit of camera shake, the little bit of blur, the little bit of, like, particles in the air that you add over things to kind of distract the eye that really makes things look real sometimes.

Clint: But it's this wide shot here where you can clearly see Daniel Craig. And I'm wondering, is this, are they actually doing this, and then it's a face replacement?

Niko: They did the shadow thing!

Wren: It's a head replacement!

Niko: They did the shadow thing to the head.

Wren: They did do the head. Just kind of look at, like, the sharpness around his hair and kind of the brightness of it compared to the rest of his body. So, it's a stunt guy doing this. We know that is definitely not Daniel Craig hanging outside this real flying helicopter.

Clint: Just like Hugo Weaving, they have a full photo scan of Daniel Craig's face, and they just put it on there. Is that a flare gun?

Wren: Yeah, that was a flare gun.

Niko: I love that stuff, with the gravity shifting.

Clint: Yeah. You can actually tell that it was shifting for real, for those actors.

Niko: Yeah. They're holding on for real, as, like, something spins, the set spins or something. That's cool.

Wren: So, another thing to note is that you see people hanging out of the helicopter when it's doing the barrel roll. They're mannequins. And you can clearly see, like, this dude just kind of hanging out, kind of stuck there.

Niko: Are you sure they're mannequins? I think that's a real person.

Wren: Niko, I honestly, 100% guarantee you that is not a real person.

Niko: He moves his hand right there! He's a human being.

Producer: That looks CG.

Niko: Could be. He could be CG.

Wren: We're forgetting something very important about that shot. The entire background isn't real.

Niko: You're right. That guy's probably CG.

Clint: I think the camera shake they added. Like, that shot specifically is, like, 2D, post camera shake.

Wren: Whereas if you compare it to "Mission: Impossible," where there were definitely several shots where Tom Cruise is legitimately flying this helicopter, doing stunts, you can kind of see micro-vibrations of the flexing of the rig. Whereas here, it's like the camera's actually moving up and down, because this is just a 2D cutout of the image going up and down.

Niko: They're giving you car-camera shake. You're talking about how the background's CG. Notice the bright daylight on the front of the helicopter glass standing out. I think that's the actual sky and the actual daylight and the actual background from where they filmed the helicopter in a different spot. And so you get a little bit of that sense of, like, huh, that light's coming from a thing that doesn't quite exist in this scene.

Wren: I find it amusing that, like, this helicopter just keeps doing stunt moves. It keeps doing barrels. And now it's doing this crazy flip.

Clint: Oh, here it comes! Zero g's! Yeah, that's pretty sweet.

Niko: This is a cool idea for a fight scene. Clint: Yeah. He's so calm and collected.

Wren: Man, that was wild. I feel like I actually learned quite a bit from this episode. More than I anticipated.

Niko: If you guys enjoyed this, maybe consider checking out our channel, Corridor Crew, and watching the "VFX Artists React" show. To all of you watching, we love making this show. Thank you so much for watching and supporting it. We are going to continue making VFX shows forever. [laughs]

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