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Incredible viral video reveals famous movie stunts are optical illusions

A still from an old movie
(Image credit: Hal Roach Studios )

Everyone's seen at least one black and white slapstick movie, right? But did you know that most of the famous Hollywood stunts were all just tricks of the camera? That's right, they were just clever optical illusions - and you know how much we love a good old mind-boggler here at Creative Bloq. 

Instagram account Historyinmemes has shared an animated behind-the-scenes look at how Hollywood shot stunts before the likes of green screens and digital effects. The clip shows how the movies used the likes of custom-made sets, angles and optical illusions to create the stunts. If you're making your own movies, make sure you check out our roundup of the best video effects software

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The video (opens in new tab) reveals how three scenes were shot. Firstly, the clock scene from the 1920's film, Safety Last! , which was shot using a custom set on the roof of a building. The angle made it look as though actor, Harold Lloyd, was dangling above the city below from a clock face when in reality he was simply above a safety mat. 

The second features a custom design drawn on glass that's positioned in front of the camera to make it look as though Charlie Chaplin in the movie Modern Times was rollerblading dangerously close to a high edge. And finally, an early split-screen effect made it look as though Colleen Moore has wily eyes that could move in separate directions. 

It's amazing to see how analogue visual effects can be just as effective as the likes of modern CGI. If you'd like to sink your teeth into some more tricks of the eye, then make sure you have a look at the list of our favourite optical illusions

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Amelia Bamsey
Staff Writer

Amelia is Creative Bloq’s Staff Writer. After completing a degree in Popular Music and a Master’s in Song Writing, Amelia began designing posters, logos, album covers and websites for musicians. She now enjoys covering a range of topics on Creative Bloq, including posters, optical illusions, logos (she's a particular fan of logo Easter eggs), gaming and illustration. In her free time, she relishes in the likes of art (especially the Pre-Raphaelites), photography and literature. Amelia prides herself on her unorthodox creative methods, her Animal Crossing island and her extensive music library.