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

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.

Scanners Exploding Head

How They Shot the Head Explosion Scene in ‘Scanners’


“If ever you want to blow up a head, I advise using kosher salt. But don’t do this at home.” – special effects artist Gary Zeller.

Fantasia Ave Maria Sequence

How Animators Created the Elaborate “Ave Maria” Sequence for ‘Fantasia’


You know what doesn’t help an already challenging multiplane camera set up? An earthquake.

Days Of Heaven Locust Swarm

How They Shot the Locust Scene in ‘Days of Heaven’


Everything in ‘Days of Heaven’ was accomplished in-camera. And yes that includes the locusts.

Jaws Dolly Zoom

How Does the Dolly Zoom Work?


Here’s how cinematographers accomplish the disorienting trick also known as “the ‘Vertigo’ effect.”

Jurassic Park T Rex Roar

How They Designed The T-Rex Roar in ‘Jurassic Park’


One of the rare sound effects as iconic as its accompanying visual effect.

Sorcerer Bridge Scene

No Way Back: How They Shot the Bridge Scene in ‘Sorcerer’


A perilous bridge traversal so nice they did it twice.