6. His Flying Enabled New Technologies
Making the flying looking right for Superman: The Movie proved to be a big challenge. Initially, the creative team had just wanted to use front projection, with Reeve dangling on wires in front of images that moved. However, this didnt look realistic enough and special effects wizard Zoran Peresic was tasked with finding a solution. Audiences had to believe that a man could fly, so he had to come up with something that didnt look so fake.
As a solution, Peresic invented the Zoptic system. This new technology added a zoom function to both the movie camera and the projector. This meant that Richard Donner could zoom in on Reeve in flight, while allowing the background image to recede into the distance behind him. This created a greater illusion of movement, and allowed more freedom for the filmmaker.
Peresic patented the system, and went on to use it in such films Return To Oz, Sky Bandits and High Road To China, as well as the cult TV series Greatest American Hero. Peresic also returned to work on Superman II and III, but wasnt brought back for Superman IV: The Quest For Peace due to budgetary constraints (thats why the flying in that film looks so much more naff).