It's not hard to find out all the visual effect shots in movies like Avengers: Infinity War or Ready Player One but First Man was shot more like one Documentation, so the extensive visual effects had to be seamless and invisible. To achieve this, the visual effects studio DNEG built one of the most amazing televisions you've ever seen, and made it possible to film many sequences on the set with minimal post-processing effort.
Scenes in which an actor who has never been there Actually flew before, has to pilot an airplane, which is often filmed in front of a huge green screen, which is removed in post-production and replaced by footage of clouds rushing by. For First Man Digital Effects Supervisor Tristan Myles reveals to the BBC that director Damien Chazelle wanted to reenact these scenes, like flying the X-1
Projecting footage behind an actor is actually a trick that Hollywood has used for decades, mostly with driving scenes, but it has been refined to the point where the results of First Man can not be distinguished from actual aerial photographs. The approach also minimizes the expense of reworking as reflections on windows or helmet visors are accurately captured during filming.
During production, DNEG also had access to archive material from NASA's Apollo programs and was able to incorporate actual footage of launches into the film. However, the original material was recorded on film with a quadratic aspect ratio, while modern films are projected with a much larger perspective. Therefore, artists at DNEG had to digitally expand the original archive footage so that it had a wider aspect ratio using CG simulations of smoke, steam, and fire during takeoff. It sounds like a lot of unnecessary work, but adds some authenticity to the film, which has helped convince the Academy that it deserves the Oscar for the best visual effects.
[h/t Art of VFX]
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