10 Amazing Practical Movie Effects Shots Everybody Assumed Were CGI

Practical effects at their absolute best.

The House With A Clock In Its Walls Jack Black

There's no denying that modern-day CGI effects are a thing of beauty, that when they're put in the hands of a filmmaker who knows what they're doing, they can soar far above the limitations of practical effects technologies.

And while practical effects have become an increasing rarity in major Hollywood productions over the last 20+ years, the unmistakable tangible quality of animatronics, miniatures, and props physically present on-set will always have an appeal to audiences.

Perhaps the best compliment that can be paid to practical effects these days is their ability to convince everyone that they're actually CGI.

If an effect is "too good" or reaches a certain point of articulation, it's assumed that studios simply wouldn't invest the time or money to do it for "real," and that an army of VFX artists must've instead been responsible.

But as these 10 stunning practical effects prove, sufficiently motivated and creative filmmakers - and their ludicrously talented effects teams - can pull off astonishing results that computers can't quite fully replicate.

The fact that people assume these effects must be digital trickery of some kind is really the best compliment you could possibly pay them...

10. The "No Mirror" Effect - Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation

The House With A Clock In Its Walls Jack Black
Paramount Pictures

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation marked the point at which director Christopher McQuarrie took the reins of the franchise and shot it into the stratosphere where in-camera, practical effects are concerned.

Though the films have made an effort to point out all the very real, high-wire situations Tom Cruise has placed himself in, there's one sneaky shot in Ghost Protocol that you probably never even considered could be practical.

When Benji (Simon Pegg) is being fitted with a mask in front of a mirror, most would freely assume the shot was achieved with CGI, because why wouldn't it be?

But in truth, the scene was realised with no visual effects whatsoever. Instead, the mirror is simply an empty frame, with six people appearing in the shot on either side of the mirror's threshold - three actors, three stand-ins - and matching their movements to convincingly simulate a reflection.

To make the final effect so convincing, the camera movements and actor blocking had to be absolutely note-perfect.

Though Ghost Protocol isn't the first movie to execute this trick - both Evil Dead II and Terminator 2 have famously done it - given this film's recency, you'd be forgiven for assuming they just pulled it off in post.

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Stay at home dad who spends as much time teaching his kids the merits of Martin Scorsese as possible (against the missus' wishes). General video game, TV and film nut. Occasional sports fan. Full time loon.