Black Swan: How did they do that?! Visual Effect Reel

I wouldn’t normally dedicate a full post to a film, but there are a couple of things that I wanted to draw to your attention to.

Image via Films 'N Movies

I am sure that, by now, just about everyone has heard of Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan. The film is a critical favorite and has received numerous accolades, including:

  • 5 Academy Award nominations
  • 12 British Academy of Film (BAFTA) nominations
  • 5 Golden Globe nominations
  • 3 Screen Actors Guild (SAG) nominations

Lead actress Natalie Portman has already racked up 9 Best Actress wins at various award ceremonies with more sure to follow.

I won’t go into any of the plot detail here but feel confident saying that the storyline divides audiences into two distinct camps: LOVE IT or HATE IT.  I am in the “love it” camp because I think it is absolutely brilliant.  Darkly brilliant. Disturbingly brilliant.  Beautifully brilliant.

Although Portman’s acting and Aronofsky’s direction are the two elements receiving the most acclaim, I would like to draw your attention to the look of Black Swan.   The film’s cinematography, art direction, costume design and make-up were instrumental in creating this darkly compelling and twisted fantasy.

When I came across this video on Jezebel today I knew I had to share it.  It offers a startling, but wonderful, glimpse at the visual effect magic that was necessary to blur the line between fantasy and reality.

Check it out here (beware: major spoilers in the video.  DO NOT WATCH if you don’t want to be spoiled!)

If you have seen it, I’d love to hear what you thought of the film, and the visual effects, in the comments below.

On a related note, if you haven’t already, check out this Dramatis Personae post on the film’s costumes (Rodarte-designed!), make-up and posters. It’s a must-read for any fan!

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  • Madhu March 2, 2016, 4:39 AM

    I loved the film! It was a departure from the expected and the costumes and effects were delicious. Stunning visuals, its been a long time since-since I’ve seen a movie that good. I really like this video. Thanks for sharing it.

  • jessica February 22, 2011, 11:58 AM

    I absolutely loved the film. The whole movie was enthralling and I think you hit the nail on the head there when you said it was disturbingly brilliant, because that is exactly what it was. Stunning visuals, its been a long time since since Ive seen a movie that good. (last one was Pans Labyrinth)

  • Fajr | Stylish Thought February 11, 2011, 8:42 PM

    This movie was breathtaking; from the imagery, the costumes and the acting.

  • Burcin February 8, 2011, 10:36 AM

    I totally agree, that film captured me in a way that no other film in the last years could!
    Besides Portman really squeezed herself for that charachter, I loved her more than ever in that movie…leave aside the light, the costumes, the photography…everything is almost perfect!
    I wrote a few lines about it and made some moods showing also the black swan’s trends on the catwalks, I would be glad If you’d pass by and give a look!! ; )

  • Casee Marie February 6, 2011, 11:28 PM

    That video is amazing! I’ve of course heard of the film through the hype and a fraction of me wants to see it solely for the Rodarte costumes, but for the most part I tend to be overtly indignant when it comes to ballet films. I won’t go all ranty (because who leaves ranty comments on blogs they adore?!) but most of the time I feel like Hollywood makes millions of dollars off of it while in the real world ballet dancers have to live on poverty level income, not to mention a lack of respect/appreciation from society. (My sister and I have an ongoing attempt to find the best way to explain her career because whenever we say “dancer” people think we mean “stripper” and once she even said “ballet dancer” and someone thought she said “belly dancer”!) I mean, I don’t blame Darren or the film for any of that but his focus here is probably going to be more on the psychological torment and less on the life and times of ballet dancers, you know? Because that’s where the heart of his story is; ballet is just the vehicle, as it were. Most people don’t really know what a dying art it is and how much of a struggle it is for the dancers, but who knows – maybe all the people who saw the film will be more inclined to go to the theatre now!

  • Eva February 5, 2011, 11:28 AM

    I’m not usually a fan of many visual effects in one movie, but they work in Black Swan because so many parts of it are totally unrealistic and you know it. Don’t you love it how Black Swan caters so well to the fashionable audience? 🙂

  • Kirstin Marie February 2, 2011, 1:33 PM

    I want to see this movie so badly, but I have no one to go with! I may just have to go look like a creeper and see it alone. This post has just made me want to see it more.


  • Lynzy February 2, 2011, 10:26 AM

    I thought the movie was brilliant. it may have something to do with the fact that I work in an emergency room and frequently deal with mentally ill patients in our emergency psych ward and find the mental illnesses extremely intriguing. This movie was dark and unexpected and if you have an open mind I think everyone can find the brilliance behind it!

  • Grit & Glamour February 1, 2011, 7:33 PM

    I loved the film! It was a departure from the expected and the costumes and effects were delicious. It wasn’t what I expected, but I did enjoy it.


  • Cate February 1, 2011, 6:02 PM

    this is EPIC! i actually wondered how they did most of it. it kind of spoils the magic a little, but my curiosity got the better of me 🙂

  • Arash Mazinani February 1, 2011, 5:38 AM

    I’ve not seen the film but I don’t think I will until maybe it comes out on DVD. It looks a bit freaky but I loved watching the video clip just for the technology behind it. My friend is a 3D animator and told me about adobe after effects which is basically like photoshop but for video. It’s quite crazy what they can do and I have to agree with @Marissa it made me cringe when she pulled the feather from out of her skin :-s.

    Twitter: @arashmazinani

    • Beautifully Invisible February 1, 2011, 12:14 PM

      The film is definitely a bit freaky – some people liken it to a horror movie, but I wouldn’t call it that. Psychological thriller? Definitely!

      I’ve seen Adobe After Effects being used before and you are right, it is amazing to see what can be done with it. I think this visual effects reel was remarkable, because it just shows how much needs to be done behind-the-scenes to make the fantasy really flawless.

      I also agree w/ you and Marissa – the feather/skin scene is cringe-worthy!

  • Marissa January 31, 2011, 9:17 PM

    So many little details I never thought about! This is amazing, but every time I see her pull that feather out of her back, it feels like nails on a chalkboard! Eeek!

    • Beautifully Invisible February 1, 2011, 12:16 PM

      Hehe, I agree completely! That scene’s “eww” factor is through the roof!

      Despite that, it is amazing to see all the behind-the-scenes work that went into creating these scenes. I wondered how they did some of the things they did, and seeing it just made it all the more interesting!

  • A Brit Greek January 31, 2011, 4:29 PM

    I saw it over the weekend B and loved it? It was really intense… Darren A did an amazing job with this film, I was blown away from beginning to end. Visually it was breathtaking and Natalie P did a fantastic job in her role and training for it too, I can tell you dancing en pointe is a real pain!

    Have a great week gorgeous!

    • Beautifully Invisible February 1, 2011, 12:21 PM

      I agree – the film was (to me) the whole package. Everything was so well done. It still boggles my mind when I think about the transformation Natalie P went through to prepare for this role, both mentally and physically. Truly unbelievable!

      We are about to get hit by a massive snowstorm here, so I’ll be trying to stay warm! Have a great week in beautiful Greece! (I am not jealous at all. Swear).

  • Terri January 31, 2011, 3:58 PM

    Fascinating. I’ve not seen the film, but now that I’ve seen this short clip, I suspect even my husband will be interested.

    • Beautifully Invisible February 1, 2011, 12:23 PM

      It’s definitely worth a look. Some people really DO hate it, but I tend to think that perhaps they simply don’t understand it. I think it’s a fairly cerebral film. It doesn’t just give you everything at face value. You have to think and analyze what you’ve seen. I love films like that. You’ll have to let me know what you think if/when you and your husband see it!

  • BeautifullyInvisible January 11, 2012, 5:43 AM

    Vintage Beautifully Invisible: : Black Swan: How did they do that?! Visual Effect Reel

  • Cate Young January 11, 2012, 7:39 AM

    Vintage Beautifully Invisible: : Black Swan: How did they do that?! Visual Effect Reel