The Most Exciting Special Effects Used in Action Flicks

There’s nothing to get your blood pumping and heart racing like a good, old-fashioned action film. The action genre is most popular among men, who can live vicariously through the explosions and battles onscreen. With today’s use of CGI and 3D animation, special effects are more exciting than ever. The following are a few of the top special effects used to create the adrenaline boost of a great action film.

Blue Screen Shots

The use of a blue screen background is nothing new, but today’s use of computers allows filmmakers to create more realistic animated surroundings. This special effect uses separate shots for the foreground and background of a scene, superimposing them together for the final cut. The blue shade found in the background is not a part of human skin colouring, making it ideal for action shots because the hero will stand out against it. You can then place your action star in fields of flames, distant planets, or underwater. Composite shots can be created with the use of computer 3D software, replicating one initial image to create a herd of stampeding animals or a horde of angry barbarians.

Computer Animation

If you associate animation with Disney, think again. Some of your favourite blockbusters are now created using animation software and CGI techniques. From Independence Day to Avatar, the use of computer animation for special effects allows the widespread destruction of cities and the creation of fantastic monsters without the use of cheesy-looking latex and foam models. This has made special effects more realistic than ever before. The animation director onset is responsible for directing the action of each computer-generated sequence, but a full team of professional animators usually works on this aspect of the film. They can use software like Maya to fill in character profiles, shading, and objects in the environment, while creating realistic backgrounds to place blue-screened stars in composite shots.

Digital 3D animation is often used to create extreme weather effects, like the 100 foot wave in The Perfect Storm, or the flooding in The Day After Tomorrow. Creating replicas of ancient structures is another task handled by computer animation, such as the realistic-looking Colosseum in 2000’s Gladiator. This was created using 3D modelling based on the real thing. Today’s digital animators are master manipulators, using the tools provided by complex modelling software.


Another mainstay of men’s favourite action films are explosions and fire. These can be created using animation, as described above. For example, the destruction of Pearl Harbour in the film of the same name was achieved entirely with CGI explosions and animation. Yet pyrotechnics experts can also create controlled explosions on a film set for an even more realistic experience. Nothing looks as good as the real thing. There are also machines that can create fireworks, explosions, or lightning on demand, which are handled by these highly trained experts.

When you go to the cinema to see an epic action film, these are just a few of the techniques that are used to create the realistic special effects that you see before you. Technology continues to improve, making computerized animation one of the best ways to create explosions, action sequences, and simulated disasters.