The climactic Battle of Hardhome in Game of Thrones season five was the show's biggest and most epic moment, but I doubt anyone watching wondered "How did they do that?" The answer, of course, was computers. Big action scenes like this are usually shot on green screens in disparate elements and then thrown together by a CPU. Watch the video to find out that all the stuff you thought was fake was fake in exactly the way you thought it was:
This is so boring to me. It lacks the charm of the old school behind the scenes clips, where you would see people working with models or extras undergoing big make-up jobs. These days I'm pleasantly surprised when there's an actor in a motion capture suit in a shot, as it gives the whole thing a sense of bigger physicality.
This isn't to throw shade on the work, which is awesome, but rather to lament the passing of a certain kind of movie magic, a magic where everything was tactile, where guys spent hours and hours building enormous models of space ships or meticulously painting scenes on glass mattes. This isn't a value judgment on which kind of work is better, but rather a judgment about which sort of behind the scenes video is better - and it's obvious that a video showing clearly computer generated imagery being plopped into a landscape is kind of boring. There's a cool moment or two where you see how many elements were shot to smash a wight's head, but generally it's a lot of what you expect.
But here's the switcheroo: the behind the scenes stuff on the fantastical CGI is boring, but it's the behind the scenes stuff on non-fantastical CGI that is a fucking mind-blower. When you watch an action movie these days it's easy to assume the alien fleet being exploded exists only inside a computer, but when you're watching a drama it's less obvious where reality is being molded by computers. Check out this FX reel for Wolf of Wall Street - yes, Wolf of Wall Street was full of CGI, some of which happens at moments you would never, ever guess.
That's amazing! When I was a kid it was the movie magic that brought monsters and aliens to life that was interesting; now that stuff is totally tedious, and it's the most basic stuff - the creation of a party on a beach! - that is truly jaw-dropping. I mean, the bit where Leo is standing in front of one house but in the movie he is seamlessly standing in front of another? I saw that reveal and was astonished - it never even occured to me that this was not a completely practical shot. That's where CGI becomes magical, when it quietly replaces reality with another reality - nothing flashy, nothing showy, just a total substitution of a believable thing for another believable thing. That's when the reveal has an impact, when you didn't even guess it was an FX shot in the first place.
That is movie magic. Show me more behind the scenes videos like that.