Black Swan’s Awesome VFX Reel

Black Swan movie poster

Not only was the film great but it had one of the best movie posters of the year.

I watched Black Swan last week. It’s an excellent film. Very tense and not necessarily something I’d want to watch over and over but brilliantly executed.

I’m not going to write much more about the film itself, check out Jenni’s review if you are after that. What I am going to talk about are the visual effects. If you haven’t seen the film stop reading now and don’t even thing about watching the video below until you have, there will be SPOILERS.

There were some obvious effects in the film, the face replacements for multiple Ninas, the mirror effects and the injuries. Most of these were done really well. There were some of the quick face replacements that stood out a little, perhaps deliberately to make it obvious that it was Portman. There was also something not quite right with some the shots of Portman’s reflections when they acted differently to her in the mirror but I think this might have been because I knew it was a composite and was looking for it. So overall I was the effects were doing their job and not drawing attention to themselves.

Then, in the climax of the final scene, when Nina finally discovers her inner Black Swan, there was one of the best visual effects I have seen for a long time. Nina enters the stage and pirouettes across around and around towards the crowd. It is a long shot, perhaps 30 seconds, and during the dance Nina sprouts feathers and grows a huge pair of wings. The shot end with her in her final pose in front of the audience, lit by the spotlights, with these huge wings above her. The scene was exhilarating on it’s own but I think I was doubly impressed because I appreciated how well this massive effects shot had worked. Not only was it executed perfectly but it was so used perfectly in the context.

The reel below also points out many of the invisible effects that were also done in the film. I was continually impressed with how much of the dance had to be done by Natalie Portman but it turned out she didn’t as much as I thought, there were just some completely perfect head replacements instead. There were also more subtle distortions to hint at swan features that I hadn’t picked up on a conscious level.

I take my hat of to the guys at Look Effects, who I hadn’t even heard of until now. Your work on this movie is top notch and I would love some of these shots on my reel.

I saw a version of this video on the Look Effects website but found this longer version on via Joshua Bowman’s blog. FXGuide have an article about the effects here.