Destruction has been captured in action films in ways that can seem random and effortless to viewers. Audiences don’t bat an eye when they see trucks rolling on the highway, car roofs concaving, and vehicle hoods bending in half on impact. In reality, though, these “accidents” are carefully calculated and rehearsed feats of practical effects that defy the laws of physics. And often, teams of coordinators only have one shot to get it right. A video from Insider dissects different ways cars and other set pieces have to be meticulously modified to pull off these seemingly impossible and very spectacular stunts of destruction.
In the short video, special effects company JEM FX reveals its techniques for controlling chaos by using a Buick LaSabre as a case study. The team focuses on the car’s three pillars that support the weight of the roof, making scores in the metal to weaken the structure in specific areas to achieve certain types of damage. When they drop a 3,000-pound weight on top of the car, the areas they scored are the only areas with cinematically clean damage.
More stunts like explosions and launching vehicles are designed using rockets, ramps, cannons, and cable rigs. A stunt from Taken 3 involves a shipping container getting catapulted off of a semi truck's trailer and rolling down a highway onto cars. Thanks to two 12-inch nitrogen cannons on the trailer and two giant wheels welded to the shipping container, the team was able to pull off the multi-component maneuver.
Watch the video below to see how they made a bus run over a row of cars in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, made it look like a ghost was damaging a vehicle in Ghostbusters: Afterlife, and many other practical effects.
A video from Insider dissects different ways cars and other set pieces have to be meticulously modified to pull off seemingly impossible stunts in films and television.