Why The Top Gun: Maverick VFX Team Changed The Color Of Jennifer Connelly's Pants [Exclusive]

When I was in film school, one professor showed us the underground car chase scene from "The Dark Knight" and the freeway chase scene from "Salt." This was a demonstration of staging and editing, and he was pointing out how when you break down the shots from "The Dark Knight," they actually don't make much spacial and linear sense, using the scene from "Salt" as one that shows things clearly. I think he also just wanted to take Christopher Nolan down a peg, but that's another story. Anyway, after he presented these two scenes to show why one was better than the other, I raised my hand and asked the class which scene they cared about more. They all said "The Dark Knight." Yes, some of the nuts and bolts filmmaking was lacking and continuity rarely matched, but that was the scene they were invested in.

You can get away with a lot if you have properly invested your audience in the characters, their relationships, and their obstacles. Ultimately, that is the goal of any story. Just look at the films of Martin Scorsese. They are scattered with continuity errors. Does it matter? Not at all. He taps at something emotionally truthful in all of his movies, and that is what you focus on, not whether or not someone is holding a cigarette in their fingers from one shot to another.

"Top Gun: Maverick" has an example of this that I guarantee almost no one reading this noticed the first, second, of fifth time they saw the box office juggernaut this year. Once you notice it, you will never believe you missed it, but it shows you the strength of the characters that you didn't. It all comes down to a pair of pants worn by Jennifer Connelly.

'You are in the emotion of the movie'

The importance of editing can't be understated. It's the final rewrite where the filmmakers truly understand their images and pacing. /Film's Jack Giroux spoke with "Top Gun: Maverick" editor Eddie Hamilton about one of its trickiest story elements: Maverick and Penny's relationship. Their scenes were shuffled around quite a bit, and there's a small remnant of the shift in costuming, and visual effects needed to be implemented. Hamilton says:

"The scene where he rides with Penny on the motorbike after the beach football scene, that originally was situated after the sailing scene. But it was too early for them to have that kind of relationship with her on the back of the bike, resting her head on his shoulder. If you see the shot, she's wearing the clothes from the sailing scene, but instead, we changed her white pants blue to make them look like jeans in visual effects."

It's blatant once you notice it. While they may have changed the white pants to digital jeans, her navy blue sweater is still there for you to see, even though in the next shot she is wearing an olive button-down shirt. He continues:

"But because you are right in the emotion of that scene with the football and right at the end, the ball gets thrown to Hondo and they all pile on Hondo and they have a laugh and the music's building, and then you see Maverick and Penny riding home ... you don't notice because you are in the emotion of the movie."

That's what is important. Believability isn't based on how real something is, but how real it feels. Eddie Hamilton and director Joseph Kosinski knew this felt true and took a chance on the effects. We all bought it.