How Flying Scenes are Shot for Movies and TV


Movies Insider has put together a behind-the-scenes video showing the advancements in the way flying scenes in movies and television have been created over the years. The 8 minute video contains plenty of Superman references, starting with the 1950s “Adventures of Superman” TV series, 1978’s “Superman: The Movie,” and through to 2003’s “Man of Steel”.

One of the biggest challenges for Hollywood’s stunt performers is creating flight that is both safe and believable. Since George Reeves portrayed Superman in the 1950s, movies and TV shows have used an endless variety of wires, pans, and other rigs to lift actors up high. The best tools depend on the type of flying on-screen. A huge breakthrough came in 1978’s “Superman” when a visual effects artist discovered a way to operate the camera so that Christopher Reeve would appear to be flying even when he was lying flat. Today, many of those same wire and camera tricks are still used. However, digital doubles can make even the most dangerous flying tricks possible, while flying moves can be programmed in advance into a robotic arm, as seen in “Black Widow.” Elizabeth Olsen’s stunt double, CC Ice, told us about the many ways both Marvel’s “Avengers: Infinity War” and “WandaVision” made Wanda Maximoff fly.

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Steve Eden
June 18, 2022 4:41 pm

It’s nice that George got a little credit in this vid. Jack Larson always said he thought George’s take offs and landings looked VERY convincing. I agree and I think was a solution well ahead of that period of time.

June 19, 2022 12:30 pm

To the Superman Homepage, it’s staff, members and to all of my fellow Superman fans all around the world. I wish you all a Happy, Super,and peaceful Father’s Day!

June 20, 2022 8:37 pm

There’s a story (related by Richard Donner, so probably true) that the first scene of Christopher Reeve flying as Superman in the 1978 film was also the first scene shot; the wire team was just supposed fly Reeve over the camera. It would have looked fine. Reeve, being a hang glider pilot, knew how to hold his body and move to change direction. He shifted in his harness to create the graceful arc seen in the film. Donner called cut, and there was a moment of silence from all the crew on the set, then they all broke out cheering.… Read more »