Rian Johnson’s Looper is one of the best science fiction movies in recent memory. The film seamlessly blends digital special effects into the frames to create a futuristic world where extreme poverty and class strife run rampant, and some people have developed telekinetic powers, able to move things with the power of their mind. This pair of videos illustrates the process that went into creating what, on the surface, look like simple visual effects.
Some of the most striking images in Looper are the ones where cities jut straight up out of the flat, Midwestern landscape. In most cases these buildings have been ravaged by time and the elements, which have turned them almost skeletal. While they fit into the background of the frame, these shots are meticulously layered composites, digitally rendered. This video shows the process by which the disparate pieces are fused together into a single unit, and offers a glimpse into what goes into creating pictures that, if everything goes well, audiences may not even notice.
In the later portions of Looper, the telekinetic part of the story plays a larger part in the action. Shots like the ones explored in the second video look deceptively small at first glance. But when you see the process broken down, and get a look at how they have to render each individual chunk of dirt and blade of grass, you truly appreciate the amount of effort that goes into every frame of shots like these. They even have to manipulate the shadows, something most of us would never even consider.