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The Behind the Scenes Pic of the Day phone home!

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with today’s Behind the Scenes Pic!

The last time we featured ET here it was a cute little moment between tiny Drew Barrymore and Steven Spielberg, but since I’m just about to get myself all dolled up for the big Super 8 Extravaganza (The Alamo’s showing four films that influenced Super 8 in one marathon setting, including Carpenter’s The Thing, Close Encounters, Scanners and Slumber Party Massacre) I figured it’s damn time to focus on some of the effects of ET.

Thanks to reader Chris Handschuch we’re going to do that right now!

From the emotional climax of the film, we have ET’s ship taking off in miniature form. Look at the layers of detail put into this slice of movie magic. You have the hot gelled light shooting off sunrise colors, you have the miniature trees in front of what appears to be a painted backdrop, the layer of foggy atmosphere and the ship itself. It’s another picture that shows how much effort goes into making everything look perfect from one specific angle in order to sell a shot.

It’s a lovely picture. Hope you folks enjoy it. Click to embiggen!



If you have a behind the scenes shot you’d like to submit to this column, you can email me at

Tomorrow’s behind the scenes pic will be sci-fi, but won’t be another Spielberg pic, I swear! Oh, and you only look at it if you’re under 30.

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Readers Talkback
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  • June 2, 2011, 5:04 p.m. CST

    The Beard says SUPER 8 is the first true JJ Abrams film.


  • June 2, 2011, 5:05 p.m. CST

    Well, I guess I can't see tomorrow's picture of the day

    by Mister Vertue

    I'm a wee bit over the hill for that one.

  • June 2, 2011, 5:06 p.m. CST

    From the article:


    " ... on-line reviewer Devin Faraci wrote that the film never works completely except as 'cheap nostalgia porn.' It’s a line that will make Paramount Pictures executives shudder, but Spielberg is unfazed by that sort of talk. He also said that reflections and refractions are the nature of filmmaking after a century of the art form and he finds that compelling, not concerning."

  • June 2, 2011, 5:10 p.m. CST

    The Beard doesn't care what Faraci thinks.


    "... on-line reviewer Devin Faraci wrote that the film never works completely except as 'cheap nostalgia porn.' It’s a line that will make Paramount Pictures executives shudder, but Spielberg is unfazed by that sort of talk. He also said that reflections and refractions are the nature of filmmaking after a century of the art form and he finds that compelling, not concerning."

  • June 2, 2011, 5:11 p.m. CST

    Ah, real model work...

    by WriteForTheEdit

    That IS beautiful.

  • June 2, 2011, 5:14 p.m. CST

    Jenny Agutter tomorrow? Hubba hubba hubba!

    by Amazing Maurice

  • June 2, 2011, 5:15 p.m. CST

    Tomorrow's picture is:

    by Loosejerk

    A review of X-men: First Class. No, wait....that'd be too "cool".

  • June 2, 2011, 5:18 p.m. CST

    choppah, that's a fascinating story...

    by WriteForTheEdit

    Very interesting to learn that Abrams' original pitch was just a coming of age story... no alien/thriller aspect to it. IT'S FUCKING "POLTERGEIST" ALL OVER AGAIN!!!1!!1!! (I kid... but not really...)

  • June 2, 2011, 5:19 p.m. CST

    Fucking stunning picture ...


    Skilled people creating history and movie magic of the highest order. Love it.

  • June 2, 2011, 5:27 p.m. CST

    Movie magic right there, folks.


  • June 2, 2011, 5:28 p.m. CST

    For bluescreen shots of this spaceship

    by ObiBen

    They had a white model and projected the scenery on it, since a reflective surface is a big no-no for chroma keying. Analog reflexion mapping, if you will. For the Firefox Mig (similar issue), this kind of problem was solved by UV absorbing lacker that became opaque under blacklight during the matte pass.

  • June 2, 2011, 5:33 p.m. CST

    Tomorrow we'll see if

    by SquashoTheClown

    Logan 5 is now a runner.

  • June 2, 2011, 5:36 p.m. CST

    Jenny Agutter would be awesome tomorrow...

    by WriteForTheEdit

    ...but Farrah's "Holly" would also be mighty fine.

  • June 2, 2011, 5:45 p.m. CST

    Check out the fake fur/rug thing they're using for grass

    by Darth_Inedible

    Ingenious oldschool ILM.

  • June 2, 2011, 6:04 p.m. CST

    cool nice dim atmosphere

    by CT1

    I wonder if it gets bright on a film set or out on a location somewhere, I wonder what the best way to shield your eyes would be, huh. maybe sunglasses

  • June 2, 2011, 6:08 p.m. CST

    Wait a sec

    by Kraven Morehead

    That's a model? I always thought it was real. : ) That movie took me to another place and was the first time I cried watching a movie. I doubt I'm the only one. Later on in life i grew cynical and wondered if that little rainbow of exhaust the ship leaves wasn't just poison that was about 20 seconds away from whiping that charmy little look off Elliott's face.

  • June 2, 2011, 7:03 p.m. CST

    movie magic right there folks.. That I could make by going

    by UltraTron

    to micheals or some arts and crafts store.

  • June 2, 2011, 7:26 p.m. CST

    hated the candy caning of the ships engines in the special editions..

    by alienindisguise

    just as much as i hated the walkie talkies replacing guns. Why do you think et and the gang flew in the first fucking place!!!??? So they wouldn't get their heads blown off. FUCKING HELL!

  • June 2, 2011, 8:20 p.m. CST

    Landing- not taking off

    by Emperor_was_a_jerk

    E.T. is my favorite movie of all time. I was almost 12 when it came out in theaters and the child of a very recent divorce so the movie fit me like a shoe. My older brother worked at a movie theater and I would go to work with him and watch it over and over during his shifts. Must have seen it 20 times in the theater- Dolby 70MM. It is a masterpiece. Even30 years it still works because it succseeds in what it set out to do: entrpertain and tug heart strings. Spielberg at his finest. That shot is from when the ship landed, not took off. It was dusk when it landed (orange glow we see in the photo) and night when it took off. Yes, I am an ET geek. You knew they had to be out there!

  • June 2, 2011, 8:52 p.m. CST

    That is a my favorite pic so far!

    by ufoclub1977

    I only saw it 5 times in the theater back in '82. I would alternate with Poltergeist once, ET once... repeat.

  • June 2, 2011, 8:57 p.m. CST

    Far out that Elliot smooched Erika Eleniak[sp?] in the "frog" scene

    by Nasty In The Pasty

    THAT must've kick-started the kid into puberty.

  • June 2, 2011, 9:07 p.m. CST

    Somebody buy the man a tripod, please!!!!

    by MajorFrontbum

  • June 2, 2011, 9:29 p.m. CST

    ultratron --

    by MooseMalloy

    -- the only problem with that is that nobody would see all your hard work because - you know... you're not in show business.

  • June 2, 2011, 10:19 p.m. CST

    Re: E.T. Ship

    by ArmageddonProductions

    I remember reading in Cinefex about all the work they actually had to put into making the ship -- its reflective hull wasn't an effect, they actually had to create a reflective surface for it and shoot it in a way that allowed it to realistically reflect the "forest" around it. I don't think they fudged with it too much in the Special Edition, either. Eat shit, late Nineties' CGI!

  • June 2, 2011, 10:28 p.m. CST

    Re: E.T. Ship Correction

    by ArmageddonProductions

    Sorry, I meant, "it wasn't an effect" during shots like the one depicted above, which is why it's a model descending into a miniature background and not a bluescreen shot with a matte painting added later -- Spielberg wanted to see the ship's surface reflect its surroundings, and back in '82, that was the only way to do it. With super-detailed, fully wired scale modeling and talented plate camera DPs and operators, instead of some pimply kid with an iMac.

  • June 2, 2011, 10:29 p.m. CST

    That right there is some movie magic....

    by cgh123

    These kinds of pics always made me want to grow up to be a filmmaker when I was a kid... and they still do!

  • June 2, 2011, 10:46 p.m. CST

    That therrrr...

    by macheesmo3

    shows how CGI does not yet work as well as models do. The "real space" created by actual miniatures and the surfaces and interactions with their surroundings add so much depth as to be un-noticeable... Don't get me wrong, I'm not an anti-CGI ranter. However, it only seems to work well now as either background fill or in a total animation environment (like say Avatar). Another 5 years or so, it may be there... But right now, if you have CGI intermixed with the real world, it tends to draw the attention to itself.... I wish more directors would go the model route first and only CGI what they MUST and not just out of laziness.

  • June 2, 2011, 10:48 p.m. CST

    Awesome picture!!

    by Mennen

  • June 2, 2011, 11:18 p.m. CST

    I hate ET.

    by Robert79797979

    I am the only person that I know of that does.

  • June 2, 2011, 11:42 p.m. CST

    Re: E.T. Ship #2

    by ArmageddonProductions

    If I remember correctly, the surface of the model was made out of a polished foil that was so fragile, nobody could actually touch it during shooting.

  • I'm usually always on the look out for special effects, trying to guess the techniques. By this moment at the end of the film though, i'm not looking anymore; I'm too enthralled to care to investigate

  • June 3, 2011, 3:02 a.m. CST

    teh suk

    by macheesmo3

    yer obviously about 14 (god help us if you aren't), one of the things that you will learn as you get older is that to understand something (say CGI) you have to understand it's roots and foundations (like say... model making and early animatics , motion control camera systems ...etc). Saying something is naive and asinine as your previous statement shows not just a lack of life experience it shows a lack of consideration of story and plotting, acting and other important facets of film making... it also shows that you may suffer from a serious case of dork.... Don't worry, try and keep it together and one day maybe the jocks will end up working for you! ;-)

  • June 3, 2011, 3:14 a.m. CST

    Oh well I wrote that about the wrong damn screen name

    by macheesmo3

    and now I can't find the proper one....... crap, sorry teh suk....

  • June 3, 2011, 4:13 a.m. CST

    What a summer that must've been...

    by moody by nature

    ET, Poltergeist, Wrath of Khan, The Thing... I'm sure there are others I'm missing. Damn, what I wouldn't have given to have been a kid in America that summer.

  • June 3, 2011, 4:18 a.m. CST

    Blade Runner!

    by moody by nature

    Shit forgot about that too! Beast Master, Conan, Creepshow, Fast Times, Tron... Damn that was just the summer season.

  • June 3, 2011, 4:50 a.m. CST

    Re: CGI

    by ArmageddonProductions

    CGI has its place, but imagine if they'd decided, after the success of the original KING KONG, to make FRANKENSTEIN, THE MUMMY and CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON all stop-motion creations? Let's face it, unless you're James Cameron or Peter Jackson (and even then), the decision to be completely reliant on CGI in movies is a bad one. And I don't think it's so much the medium's fault as it is that studios insist on using more and more of it in place of practical effects or models or makeup. It seems like there's a backlash against it these days, so maybe things will go back to a happy medium where one type of special effect is used to augment another.</p><p> Also, don't forget, the golden age of CGI was fostered in by Dennis Muren, who helped pioneer many practical and optical effects before that. There's a reason his work on T2 and JURASSIC PARK still looks good, and stuff like DUNGEONS & DRAGONS or SPAWN, which were both made years later, look awful.

  • June 3, 2011, 6:24 a.m. CST

    I don't hate ET, robert79797979

    by Blanket-Man

    But I have no love for it, either. As a child of the early 1980s, I was never compelled to see it as a kid. I've since watched it maybe twice, and it just seemed very light to me. It went through the basic motions and was over with before I knew it. Maybe had I seen it when the ET creature effects were top-of-the-line I'd have appreciated it more...? Plus, I never really bought into the ET/Elliott relationship - Gizmo saying goodbye to Billy in "Gremlins" hit me a lot harder than Elliott's farewell to ET. I don't rank ET anywhere near the top of Spielburg's best, but obviously a lot of people do.

  • June 3, 2011, 7:59 a.m. CST

    diamondjoe: Melinda Dillon, Too

    by Mike-El

    Spielberg was ahead of the curve with the whole Hot Mom thing.

  • June 3, 2011, 8:47 a.m. CST

    Early 80's Dee Wallace was hot stuff

    by Nasty In The Pasty

    E.T., The Howling, Cujo ("Fuck you, dog")... I love the bit in E.T. when she's bending over to get something out of the oven, and one of Elliot's friends extends a finger to get a feel off her ass.

  • June 3, 2011, 9:20 a.m. CST

    "invisible" CGI - there is so much digital correction work

    by openthepodbaydoorshal

    and set extension, and such that we don't notice. For instance I knew from interviews that the monkey in Hangover 2 was not actually smoking a cigarette, but a ceramic model with smoke and lighting effects added in post. Did it look fake knowing that? Nope, not one bit. I'm sure there is digital work in almost every filmed entertainment we see nowadays, but of a more mundane nature.

  • June 3, 2011, 9:27 a.m. CST

    fuck devin faraci he is a fucking douche.

    by claxdog

    His crap site has banned me for disagreeing with him in the comments section of his articles.I guess he cant handle the truth fuck that fag.

  • June 3, 2011, 12:28 p.m. CST

    The real ET ship miniature

    by shran

    Is in the Sci-Fi museum in Seattle. At least I think it's the real one. Sure looks just like that one there. Sit's right next to the ET animatronic. Pretty cool and wickedly iconic. And still a bit shiny.

  • June 3, 2011, 12:43 p.m. CST


    by UltraTron

    Foolish mortals. I kid. But actually. Yeah. I could do this in my garage. I've worked for ILM, Weta,Rhythm&Hues, Disney Imagineering, Warner Bros to name a fraction. I'm just being a dick

  • June 3, 2011, 12:55 p.m. CST


    by UltraTron

    The second time seeing ET I walked out(past the defender arcade machine) and hopped into a full screening of the thing. Someone puked full out. Brraarrgghhh!!!

  • June 3, 2011, 1:53 p.m. CST

    Blubbering like a baby...

    by Billyeveryteen

    Tears streaming down my face, I looked at my Father, blubbering like a baby as well. Good times for a couple of pussies like us.

  • June 3, 2011, 3:27 p.m. CST

    ultratron --

    by MooseMalloy

    -- I think the term you're thinking of is "douchebag", not "dick". Since you named all those companies you might as well provide all us skeptics with a link to your IMDB page. I have never encountered anyone in the industry who would utter the phrase "That I could make by going to a Michael's...".

  • June 3, 2011, 3:50 p.m. CST


    by shran

    No offense, but my BS detector is on full alert. It seems a tad unlikely that you have worked at all of those FX houses since they are located all over the globe. Why would you bother posting in a kinda fan-boy geek site like this? And having that many of them on the resume looks kinda like you can't keep a job. Now don't get me wrong. Maybe you are an industry pro. But nobody will buy it without proper cred. You've put yourself in a put-up or shut-up situation. It only matters if you want people to take you seriously. Otherwise you're just a geek like the rest of us.

  • June 3, 2011, 9:48 p.m. CST

    ultratron - I hope

    by ObiBen

    the good folks at ILM, Weta,Rhythm&Hues, Disney Imagineering, Warner Bros to name a fraction thanked you when you brought the coffee and donuts!

  • June 4, 2011, 9:56 a.m. CST

    Awww - ultratron went all quiet!

    by irishraidersfan

    He's full of shit.

  • June 4, 2011, 11:36 a.m. CST

    This is the greatest movie ever made...

    by ChickenStu

    This has been my favourite movie for almost 30 years. I never ever get bored of it. I have the DVD, soundtrack album, books, you name it. I can never get enough of this film. I hate people who dismiss this as "sentimental". It isn't sentimental at all, it's poignant - and it actually has some real dramatic bite. People who dismiss it for the most part haven't watched it in years. It's beautifully acted, stunningly written and expertly made. An emotional tour-de-force which has probably has MORE to offer adults than it does children. It's as emotional as Bambi, as sci-fi as Star Wars, as thrilling and knowingly funny as Raiders, and that score by John Williams is timeless in the only way that beautiful music is. Nothing else, and I mean NOTHING comes close. And also - it hasn't been ruined by needless inferior sequels (rare in Hollywood). This behind the scenes pic is wonderful - cause it shows the love and care that used to go into these things. Nowadays they could knock something like that up in five minutes on a computer. Where the fuck is the magic in that? "E.T The Extra Terrestrial" is a fucking masterpiece. That's really all there is to say.

  • June 4, 2011, 12:15 p.m. CST

    obiben - classy and witty...

    by ChickenStu

    I like it.

  • June 4, 2011, 11:01 p.m. CST

    Model/motion control FX...

    by ObiBen

    ...might see a resurgence thanks to smaller and cheaper electronics and components. People are doing lots of timelapse photography using DSLRs and dipping their toes into MoCo. Modular, relatively inexpensive rig companies are starting to pop up on the internets. Same goes for DIY projects, as seen on

  • June 5, 2011, 5:39 a.m. CST

    Re: E.T. Then And Now ...

    by ArmageddonProductions

    E.T. is one of the reasons, along with RAIDERS, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS, JAWS, DUEL, JURASSIC PARK and, hell, I'll even throw in SUGARLAND EXPRESS, that it's so easy to dislike Spielberg's latter-day output. With E.T., he took all the best and most relevant things about being a kid in 1981/82, all the best mind movies from his own childhood and managed to transfer it to the screen with the same craft and care that Kubrick showed his movies, and that it was completely effortless, unassuming and did it all in a way no one had ever seen before was nothing short of a miracle. But that's just it: he's not Kubrick, nor is he Francis Ford Coppola or Sidney Lumet or even David Fincher, so why are all his latter-day films so bleached-out, serious and utterly joyless?</p><p> Here's a good example: JAWS was a PG film about a huge shark ripping apart little kids and naked chicks and terrorizing an island community, yet part of what made it so timeless was that Spielberg made it fun, inventive and delighted in keeping his audience on the edge of their seats. You were utterly entertained and even jaded spoiled-brat kids today who laugh at THE EXORCIST still get freaked out by JAWS and quote the goddamn thing. On the other hand, you have WAR OF THE WORLDS, a PG-13 film which was about Martians (?) invading Earth, zapping the people of New Jersey into dust and walking around in super-scary giant spider-vehicles that popped out of the ground while Tom Cruise and his screaming kids try to stay one step ahead of cutting-edge ILM effects and reverse silver-nitrate photography. People have already forgotten about it.

  • June 5, 2011, 2:04 p.m. CST

    No really. I never lie to you guys.

    by UltraTron

  • June 5, 2011, 2:22 p.m. CST


    by UltraTron

    You've never seen anything like me. I'm the biggest thing since world war 3.

  • June 5, 2011, 2:29 p.m. CST

    Re: ultrarton

    by ArmageddonProductions

    Stop quoting Lou Reed (or "Mok", if you will).

  • June 5, 2011, 2:45 p.m. CST

    Why stop when it feels so good?

    by UltraTron

    Computer, show me the Armageddon key.

  • June 5, 2011, 4:41 p.m. CST

    Re: ultratron

    by ArmageddonProductions

    It's depressing and sad that we're probably the only two people on here getting these references. I actually tracked down an .mp3 of "My Name Is Mok" and it resides on my iTunes, alongside the three Cheap Trick cuts that they finally released on "Sex America Cheap Trick".

  • June 5, 2011, 6:17 p.m. CST

    I own the Marvel "photo-comic" of ROCK & RULE

    by MooseMalloy

    Bought it when it came out, still have it in one of my boxes. Ultratron's IMDB page - now there's a hard-to-find item!

  • June 6, 2011, 12:14 a.m. CST

    I really need to update that page actually.

    by UltraTron

    Look. If I made this nowadays I could build the backdrop and light it in my garage. Adding the spaceship and tracking it in with boujou. Or do the entire thing digital. Or rapid prototype the ship out of real materials since I would have probably built it in the computer to begin with and then shoot the whole thing with a motion control rig and just roto out the rig. I could make the environment with terrigen or Zbrush or Maya or XSI or sanded foam covered in latex and airbrushed. You the see the reason I chose to shit on ET was because I fucking hate that fucking little alien cunt.

  • June 6, 2011, 4:37 a.m. CST

    Re: moosemalloy/ultratron

    by ArmageddonProductions

    moosemalloy: That was actually my introduction to ROCK & RULE, since, if it even played in the U.S., it didn't do so anywhere near where I lived. I didn't get to see it until its five-second release on video(not laser)disc a few years later, then, as a bootleg on VHS, then, on my prized Special Edition 2-disc DVD. Loved that photo-comic, though.</p><p> ultratron: yeah, you could probably make a model or do it on the computer (I just saw a spoof of TRON done on the cheap on TV recently and it was actually good enough to make me sad that most Hollywood magic has gone the way of the dodo), and it would look maybe just as good, but you'd have to have one hell of a hook when you posted it on YouTube to get the kind of audience E.T. did. Oh, and having an IMDb page is a HIGHLY overrated experience, trust me on this. It's kind of like one long AICN Talkback exclusively about you, except, if you yell back, you wind up looking like an even bigger jag-off.

  • June 6, 2011, 12:20 p.m. CST

    I've only seen bits of Rango. Can't wait. It's supposed

    by UltraTron

    to be some fresh. I think that movie magic has always been in your heart. Take for example Young Sherlock. The first digital character walking around in a real environment. That shit was fucking magic. Nowadays the kids would say it's just another shit digital effect. Now how about the scene with the stop motion food creatures that attack. Was that more magical then because they couldn't do those digital as well? I would argue that had ILM pulled off the food monsters digital back then- you would have thought them the darkest magic. So you see. Movie magic is in the eye of the beholder.

  • June 6, 2011, 6:21 p.m. CST

    Great, we all have an IMDB page --

    by MooseMalloy

    -- let's start a frickin' club, haha! No, but seriously you guys are great.

  • June 7, 2011, 3:44 a.m. CST

    Re: moosemalloy

    by ArmageddonProductions

    Note: I never said that *I* had an IMDb page, I merely said it was an overrated experience. It's also not much of a measure for someone's legitimacy in the business, considering there's a slew of camcorder Coppolas out there with extensive IMDb resumes that, until you started reading the actual titles, budgets and availability to the consumer market, would actually seem somewhat impressive. In reality, most of them are cranking out sub-par home video crap that you'd shut off if you were watching it on YouTube. IMDb PRO, on the other hand ...</p><p> Back on topic: the great thing about CGI is, something else is bound to come along soon enough and make it seem antiquated -- just look at stop motion, go motion, rotoscope, motion-control, bluescreen, greenscreen, rear projection, kodalith, 3D, the list goes on.

  • June 7, 2011, 3:49 p.m. CST

    You sound pretty bitter "armageddonproductions" --

    by MooseMalloy

    -- IMDB is a listing of ones credits in film and tv, nothing more - nothing less. If you have a bunch of "indie" or bullshit credits that's your problem to deal with.