mad max fury road visual effects

Countless gallons of digital ink have been used to write about the special effects of Mad Max: Fury Road. George Miller‘s masterpiece is a throwback in many ways, utilizing practical effects, old school stunts, and some seriously deranged working vehicles to craft action set pieces that are just plain jaw-dropping. However, not enough time has spent praising the special effects that are often hidden in plain sight. Like any modern blockbuster, Fury Road is filled with digital effects, the most impressive of which can’t be seen until you know what to watch for.

A new special effects reel has appeared online, offering a very cool look at the digital stitches that hold the practical elements of Mad Max: Fury Road together. There is more CGI than you think – the real magic trick is how it works to enhance the practical and physical work.

As you can see in the video below, the computer generated imagery employed by Miller and his team comes into play in some unsuspecting places. Sure, some of the more fantastical locations had to be created entirely within the confines of a computer, but many of the effects involve enhancing already-existing locales, bringing additional and beauty and danger into an already busy frame. Even some of the obvious computer effects come into play in surprising ways. Seeing that the chase through the giant sandstorm was actually filmed before it had the CGI storm layered over the action gives you a finer appreciation for how the old school and modern special effects work in harmony.

This kind of effects-heavy, intense shoot requires an absurd amount of planning and focus. Seeing snippets of this film prior to completion, before a handful of extras become massive crowds and before physical sets are expanded in impossible, unnatural ways, gives you a finer appreciation for just how carefully constructed this entire film is. As Miller mentioned in a recent interview, it only took a few thousand storyboards:

The 3,500 storyboards are a fantastic document with which to produce a film that has very little dialogue, where everything is spatial. Where that vehicle is, where that character is, and so on, and what the intention of the shot is. But getting out there in the reality, you’re not looking at the storyboards, you’re looking at what’s in front of you. What’s in the camera lens as you’re setting up the shot? So you have to let the storyboards go. It’s surprising that they are the things that free you to respond to what’s in front of you. And you’re always making many mid-course corrections in everything you do, when you’re making a movie. So it’s not like throwing out the storyboards; this is better.

Mad Max: Fury Road up for 10 Oscars this month, including Best Visual Effects. If you haven’t seen it yet, what are you waiting for? It’s not like we ever stop talking about it.

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