How’d They Do That?

How’d They Do That? is a monthly column in which Meg Shields unpacks moments of movie magic and celebrates the technical wizards who pulled them off.

If you’re new to reading this column, we suggest starting with these entries:

Explore the entire How’d They Do That? archive below

Trong Glowing Costume David Warner

How They Made the Glowing Costumes in the Original ‘Tron’


As Flynn says, on the other side of the screen, it all looks so easy.

Movie Snow

How They Make Fake Snow for Movies


There’s snow business like show business.

Bullet Time Matrix

How They Shot the “Bullet-Time” Effect in ‘The Matrix’


Turns out to “dodge this” you need roughly 120 cameras.

Stagecoach Yakima Canutt

How They Shot the Carriage Drag Stunt in John Ford’s ‘Stagecoach’


Hay is for horses. Internal organs are for cowards.

Candyman Mouth Bees

How They Shot the Bee Scenes in ‘Candyman’


Here’s the story of how the filmmakers wrangled 200,000 very real honeybees.

Wings Tracking Dolly Shot

How They Filmed the Café Dolly Shot in ‘Wings’


No, there wasn’t a buzzsaw attached to the camera. But that’s a free idea if anyone wants it…

Ed Harris The Abyss Breathable Fluid

How They Shot the Breathable Fluid Scenes in ‘The Abyss’


If you think it’s CGI … don’t hold your breath. Or, wait, maybe do.

Point Break Skydiving

How They Shot the No Parachute Skydiving Scene in ‘Point Break’


“Johnny, you’re about to jump out of a perfectly good airplane. How do you feel about that?” 

Empire Strikes Back Hoth Go Motion

How the Special Effect of “Go Motion” Works


The things we do for motion blur.