How VFX magic tricked everyone in this viral video

For most of us (the non-Rubik-cube-solving, can-barely-catch-let-alone-juggle masses), solving one of those feisty, colourful cubes alone is impressive. Completing it in twenty seconds is even better. Three cubes in twenty seconds, whilst juggling… well, that seems just unreal.

That would be because it is. With the help of VFX artists Richard Russell, James Dooley and Lorenzo Newell, lead VFX artist Leo Weston decided to combine his passion for juggling, fascination with Rubik’s Cubes and VFX wizardry – with a resulting fun video that’s leaving YouTube users shocked and confused (I guarantee a fun read in the comment section).

It’s no surprise the video has fooled so many: Rushes, who is responsible for the trick, is a renowned London-based VFX house. When not busy confusing the people on the internet, the Rushes team work on commercials for the likes of Nike and Samsung, and films such as Spectre. Watch the video below to see how they applied their skills in their viral video.

Leo actually juggled solved cubes in the video – which is more than I could do without help from VFX – which were then painted out to give a clean background. Different scrambled sides of the cubes were photographed in the same lighting, which were tracked onto the original solved cubes for the close-ups.

 Image: tracking stills of scrambled cubes on top of originals solved stills

Then comes wide-shot movement. 3D models were animated to solve each time Leo made a catch – which they timed to take about 20 catches to reach the solved cubes. These cubes were then animated to match Leo’s juggling, before lighting and shine were added to the final composite to make it as a life-like as possible.

 Image: 3D models animated to change each Leo made a catch

Rushes says that a lot of visual effects are ‘invisible VFX’ – where audience will usually think what they’re watching is real, when often it has been through tinkering. And all this invisible dabbling takes hours.

“Nowadays, the magic of VFX and post-production help filmmakers conjure up anything they imagine,” said Rushes in a press released. “But aside from spaceships and fantastical beasts, there’s a painfully real paradox that emerges when VFX is so skilfully crafted that it passes unnoticed – and so commonly relied upon that it’s often taken for granted."

Thankfully, this silly, viral video shows off how VFX can convince people of the impossible - and, with 15 million views across different sites, has made the wonders of invisble VFX visible. 

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