11 top secret movie tricks unveiled

Movies present an imaginary world, but very little is left to chance once the cameras are ready to roll! A well-shot movie transports us to another realm, be it an idyllic, dreamy landscape or an action-packed car chase.  So, how do they manage to do it?  What glues us to the screen and how do directors make extremely complex scenes look so real?

Here are 11 clever movie tricks that use subtle touches to creating a convincing effect

1. Wet streets at night

(C) Miramax Films   (C) depositphotos  

Ever noticed that roads in night scenes are usually wet? It's purely for aesthetic reasons - wet roads reflect light better and add contrast!

2. Fake crowds

(C) The Weinstein Company   (C) Momentum Pictures  

Even the biggest budget movies can't always afford thousands of extras, so directors have come up with a number of crowd-filling hacks.  First up is using CGI techniques: they take a photo of a small group of people from a particular angle and then use special software to replicate it.  Failing that, inflatable dolls can work a treat  - just check out the crowd scenes in The King's Speech.

3. White drugs are usually powdered milk!

(C) Universal Studios  

No, Al Pacino didn't snort a mountain of coke! It's true that during drug-taking scenes actors will 'powder their noses', but rest assured the ingredients are powdered milk, vitamins or icing sugar!

4. Corn syrup for blood

(C) Miramax Films  

Lots of different ingredients are used for fake blood, but the main ingredient is corn syrup mixed with red food coloring. Back in the day of black and white films, chocolate sauce was used - maybe because actors could lick it off afterwards?

6. Pillow talk

(C) Paramount Pictures   (C) Red Granite Pictures  

When things need to heat up, but directors don't want to embarrass their actors, they'll use a variety of modesty-preserving props or costumes. For example, they'll place a pillow between two actors when they get between the sheets and actresses will often wear discreet, nude-colored underwear. John Turturro even resorted to a yoga ball when Kate Winslet had to act out a sex scene!

6. Healthy cigarettes

(C) Miramax Films  

Some actors smoke like chimneys, but on set scenes use a healthier variety of cigarette. Actors puff away on herbal cigarettes that are nicotine-free so that they pose fewer health problems - an important consideration if a scene requires numerous takes!

7. Tiny special effects

(C) 20th Century Fox   (C) depositphotos  

Movie budgets can be astronomical, particularly if they're science fiction or action-packed stories. So when faced with exploding helicopters (or aliens) directors can resort to GCI techniques or use models (cars, skyscrapers, planes...) rather than budget-busting full size objects.

8. Tasty glass

(C) Summit Entertainment   (C) depositphotos  

Breaking glass always looks real in movies, but trust us when we say no actor's safety is put at risk! Instead of using glass, directors traditionally used sugar, although in this modern day and age plastics are a common prop.  Personally, we prefer the tastier option...

9. Conversations in cars

(C) Warner Bros. Television   (C) Chuck Lorre Productions  

How many times do you see an actor turn towards and talk to his co-star when driving? OK, so we all know that they're not actually driving along a road, but how do directors create realistic scenery? It's easy - they put the car on a platform and use a process trailer.

10. Milky clouds

(C) 20th Century Fox   (C) Centropolis Entertainment  

Stormy or fire-filled skies are created using a Cloud Tank. This patented machine injects paint or milk into a reservoir of water to generate the effect. As for invading UFO's, they simply plunge a Frisbee into milk!  They can then tidy up the effect by using CGI techniques and create a believable alien invasion! 

11. Watermelons!

(C) HBO   (C) depositphotos  

Sound engineers are creative geniuses when it comes to getting it right. Fireworks are used for gun fire, rifling through books makes the sound of bird wings and so forth.  But what about fights? Believe it or not, watermelons can be used to make the sound of a punch, a splitting head or even a hatching dragon...Daenerys Targaryen must have been so disappointed! 

Photo credits: The Weinstein Company, Momentum Pictures, Summit Entertainment