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Steven Spielberg's Brilliance Shown In War of the World's VFX Video


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Modern VFX artists break down the special effects of Steven Spielberg's 2005 sci-fi action film War of the Worlds. The film is based on the novel The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells. Before Tom Cruise enhanced his status as a bona fide action hero in the later Mission Impossible films and Edge of Tomorrow, he starred in War of the Worlds, which was his second collaboration with legendary director Steven Spielberg. The film focuses on a dock worker by the name of Ray Ferrier, played by Cruise, who is forced to look after his children following an alien invasion on Earth that decimates cities. War of the Worlds opened to positive reviews from critics and audiences alike and was a huge box office success.

Spielberg had already proved his mettle with the subject of alien visitation with films like Close Encounters of the Third Kind and E.T., so it was no surprise to see him pursue the concept further. Following Spielberg and Cruise's collaboration for 2002's Minority Report, the pair had shown an interest in working together again. Having directed many big-budget features preceding War of the Worlds that required the use of visual effects, it would be safe to assume that Spielberg would have familiarized himself with the process, but he was presented with a different set of challenges.

RELATED:Every Tom Cruise Sci-Fi Movie Ranked From Worst To Best

In their latest video, the VFX artists Wren, Sam and Niko from YouTube channel Corridor Crew, break down some of the visual effects in iconic scenes from the film. The first scene they talk about takes place early on in the film when Cruise is fleeing the site of an attack from a giant alien war machine as it blows up buildings behind him leaving almost nothing but ash and debris. Then, they talk about a scene that merged CGI with a real explosion to show bridges and houses being torn apart as the main characters escape in their vehicle. Lastly, they discuss a scene that involves a long take following the vehicle, shot in front of a blue screen but perfectly transitioning into a real van driving away at the end of the shot. Watch the video below to see all the films they discussed, including War of the Worlds which starts at 11:54.

Click here to view original video

They also mention that Spielberg deviated from his usual workflow by using digital previsualization instead of traditional storyboarding to plan the sequences ahead of time, which says a lot about the obstacles he faced in shooting the film. However, it is safe to say that this change more than helped with the planning of the gigantic set-pieces. At that point in time, it wouldn't have been easy to pull off the audacious city-destroying action that they were going for with the deadline that they were given and the technology at their disposal. The effects are not without their flaws though, as the artists point out the obvious "edge feather"  in the first scene. They don't go as far as saying that the effects are ahead of its time, but rightly appreciate the work it took to get the job done, even if it was something as simple as a blue screen effect. They also bring up Spielberg's dynamism with the camera shots that are very smooth-flowing because of the implementation of long uninterrupted takes.

To tell a story of this magnitude, Spielberg may have had to use more digital effects than practical, but the fact that he still gave us a character-driven story on top of all the visual effects in such little time is testament to his genius and mastery of his craft. The film also received an Academy Award nomination for Best Visual Effects. Whether the VFX of War of the Worlds has stood the test of time since its release is up for debate, but the film definitely holds its place as a modern sci-fi classic.

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