Before you go on a rant about the over-use of visual effects ruining the film and TV industries, watch this behind-the-scenes breakdown of HBO’s Big Little Lies. Computer graphics and digital compositing have actually become so prevalent as a filmmaking tool that your eyes probably don’t realize they’re being fooled 90 percent of the time.
There are certainly a few films that seemingly only exist to serve as a demo reel for large visual effects studios; Twister, DragonHeart, and every single one of the Transformers movies come to mind. But you’ll be hard-pressed to find a single show on TV, even dramas like Big Little Lies, that don’t take advantage of modern VFX techniques in some way.
As visual effects supervisor Marc Côté explains, shooting actors on a greenscreen, and then swapping out the background so it looks like they’re on an oceanside cafe in Monterey Bay, is not only cheaper than filming on location, it also ensures the weather never complicates things, and the sun never disappears behind a cloud. It also makes stuntwork a lot easier, and a lot safer, when you can dangle in front of a big green pillow, instead of the edge of a cliff.