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

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.

Edge Of Tomorrow Emily Blunt

How They Built the Battle Exosuits for ‘Edge of Tomorrow’


Live, die…repeatedly strap yourself into a metal articulated exoskeleton that weighs 85 lbs.

A Space Odyssey Stargate

How They Shot the Stargate Sequence in ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’


My god, it’s full of stars! And innovative slit-scan photography!

Police Story Jackie Chan Mall Pole Stunt

How They Shot the Explosive Pole Jump Stunt in ‘Police Story’


A stunt so nice they showed it thrice. Here’s the story behind Jackie Chan’s legendary leap.