10 Genius Movie Tricks You Totally Take For Granted

9. Forced Perspective - The Lord Of The Rings

Inception trick
New Line Cinema

When Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings movies were released, most surely assumed that the CGI-heavy productions simply used clever compositing techniques to appropriately scale the actors, given the massive height discrepancies between, say, Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and the movie's diminutive hobbit characters.

But rather than have cast members act in front of green screens, allowing Jackson to tweak their stature in post, he went seriously, brain-breakingly old-school.

Though Jackson employed a number of techniques to make characters' heights match up, he most often deferred to a classic Hollywood trick - forced perspective.

That is, Jackson would place actors further apart than they actually appeared to be, which with carefully placed props and camera perspectives would trick the audience's brain into believing the height difference.

And here's where things get really complicated - Jackson wanted to be able to move the camera during these shots, and so a motion control camera rig was used in tandem with another rig to move the actors and props around in perfect sync, ensuring the forced perspective illusion was never broken.

It's a mesmerising amount of effort and, honestly, would anyone have blamed Jackson if he just used a green screen and called it a day?

And in fact, Jackson opted not to use forced perspective for most of The Hobbit trilogy, citing the difficulties of executing the effect while shooting with 3D cameras.


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.