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

Psycho Rear Projection Shot

How Does Rear Projection Work?


Roll plate!

The Blob

Slime and Space Dust: How They Built ‘The Blob’


Horror movies in the 1980s are known for being goopy. So let’s wade into the deep end, shall we?

Contact Young Ellie Mirror

How They Shot the Impossible Mirror Scene in ‘Contact’


Mirror, mirror on the wall what’s the most mind-boggling blue screen effect of them all?

To Live And Die In LA car chase William Peterson

How They Shot the Wrong-Way Car Chase in ‘To Live and Die in L.A.’


We’re going this way. And by “this way” we mean straight towards the latest entry of “How’d They Do That?” with a break down of the audacious wrong-way car chase.

The Thing Chest Effect

Puppets, Prosthetics, and Bubblegum: How They Did The Chest Chomp Scene in ‘The Thing’


In our latest “How’d They Do That?” column, we break down the making of a famous scene from John Carpenter’s ‘The Thing.’

Blood Bed A Nightmare On Elm Street

The Coolest Effect in ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ Was a Bloody Accident


There are happy accidents. And then there’s the time Wes Craven lost control of a rotating room full of blood.

T Helicopter

An Overpass, a Helicopter, and the Riskiest Stunt in ‘Terminator 2: Judgment Day’


Or, as James Cameron puts it in the commentary: “See this helicopter going under a freeway overpass? That’s a helicopter going under a freeway overpass.”

Phantom Reveal

Unmasking the Death’s Head Reveal of ‘The Phantom of the Opera’


Actor and makeup artist Lon Chaney Sr. crafted one of the most famous moments of the silent era. Here’s how he did it.

Blade Runner

The Secrets Behind The Eyes of ‘Blade Runner’


The eyes have it. And by “it” we mean well-placed mirrors.