Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay about the powerful, sneaky stunt known as the “texas switch.”
Look, not all actors can be Tom Cruise. And even the ones who could be Tom Cruise are going to have a hell of a time convincing a studio to insure them to do the kind of things that Tom Cruise does. But hey: this is why stunt doubles exist. So the question is: how do you hide the presence of a stunt double?
This brings us to the “texas switch”: a stunt that requires the coordination of three things to dupe the audience: stunt work, purposeful staging, and precise cinematography. Also known as the “cowboy switch,” the stunt involves an “invisible” switcheroo between an actor and their stunt double while the camera is still rolling. Usually, the actor will vanish out of frame or pass behind something, only for their stunt double to emerge for the daring feat at hand. The reverse, obviously, is also doable.
There is safety in editing; in simply cutting between actors and their stunt doubles rather than swapping them out within the same shot. But cuts can be jarring and tip audiences off to the bait-and-switch gambit. And sometimes, a texas switch just does the job better.
Texas switches aren’t hard to find if you know what you’re looking for. So, in the interest of getting better at spotting (and appreciating) them, here’s a video essay that breaks down everything you’d ever want to know about the texas switch:
Watch “The Coolest Stunt You’ve Never Heard Of“:
Who made this?
Entertain the Elk is a video essay channel that focuses on breaking down film, television, and everything in between. They are based in Pasadena, California. You can follow them on YouTube here. And you can follow them on Twitter here.
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- If you thought that corkscrew texas switch from Atomic Blonde was neat, here’s a slightly longer featurette from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.
- If you want to see a rough pre-vis of the texas switch in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, you can thank Edgar Wright‘s Twitter account.