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Faking It

Here’s how special-effects experts made the impossible look real in ”Men in Black II,” ”Star Wars: Episode II,” and other big movies — an excerpt from Entertainment Weekly’s Aug. 16, 2002, cover story

Entertainment Weekly’s Aug. 16, 2002, cover


When it comes to movies, you simply can’t believe your eyes, no matter how realistic the image or situation. Spurred by rising computer power at lower costs and software that can reshape an image literally bit by bit, the digital-enhancement revolution is spilling over from F/X spectacles into the cinematic mainstream as unstoppably as that synthetic tidal wave in ”The Perfect Storm.” It’s not just a new tool for smoothing out flubs — it’s also a way to create settings and characters from thin air. And every year, technicians pound away at the limitations on what can be affordably fiddled with.

BEFORE (top) and AFTER

STAR WARS: EPISODE II — ATTACK OF THE CLONES

imageCredit = ‘Star Wars-Episode 2: The Attack of the Clones: © & TM/Lucasfilm, Ltd.’;

BEFORE (top) and AFTER

A BEAUTIFUL MIND

imageCredit = ‘A Beautiful Mind: Universal Pictures ‘;

BEFORE (top two frames) and AFTER

MEN IN BLACK II

imageCredit = ‘Men in Black II: Columbia Pictures’;

BEFORE (top) and AFTER

THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS

imageCredit = ‘The Fast and the Furious: Universal’;

BEFORE (top) and AFTER

A.I. ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

imageCredit = ‘AI: Warner Bros’;

BEFORE (top four frames) and AFTER

SPIDER-MAN

imageCredit = ‘Spider-Man: Columbia Pictures’;

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