You probably did not notice that this contact mirror photo was made with visual effects

This year the science fiction drama Arrival received all kinds of praise. Thanks to the emotional core that ties the characters’ drama to grounded science fiction, Denis Villeneuve’s film has been compared to a similar film: Robert zemeckisadaptation of the novel by Carl Sagan Contact.

Contact is a little more visceral and incredible than Arrival, but it’s still one of the best sci-fi movies of the 90s. And kinda like Arrival had incredible visual effects that were not easily spotted even by the most avid moviegoers, Contact had achieved impressive visual effects at the cutting edge of technology at the time. But there’s one shot in particular that you probably didn’t even know was a visual effect.

Find out what scene we’re talking about after the jump.

Here is the scene from Contact We’re talking about :

You may never have realized how tricky this shot is until now. The camera stays in front of the young people Jena Malone as she walks up the stairs and into the bathroom, but all of a sudden the photo we were looking at is a reflection of the mirror in the medicine cabinet she was running towards. In case you didn’t realize how tricky (and trippy) this shot is, here’s a snippet of the movie’s DVD commentary to explain how the Contact a mirror image has been made:

If you still don’t understand exactly how this shot came to be, this GIF can help:

How they pulled off the “Impossible Mirror Shot” in Contact

Honestly, even after seeing this GIF I was still a little puzzled, but Contact’s first assistant editor Carin-Anne Strohmaier explained in a bit more detail how this was done at

“… a Steadicam person with the Vista Vision camera strapped to his chest ran backwards past Young Ellie as he went up the stairs and down the hall – there was a gear shift – we go from 24 to 48 frames per second (although I may I don’t remember exactly – we could have shifted to three different gears) – as she stops and puts her hand to open the door of the medicine cabinet (plate “A” ) – we are then inside the reflection. The medicine cabinet was the “Plate B” (second plate) then the door closes and we have the plate “C” (third plate) which was the reflection of the photo of Young Ellie and her dad By the way, the first time we got this CGI photo as a finale (finished and ready to sign) Bob [Zemeckis] noticed the photo frame did not match the one in Arecibo Puerto Rico’s bedroom with older Ellie and Joss. an easy thing to do because timing was essential to get everything right. “

It’s a pretty tricky shot to pull off, and what’s even more impressive is the smoothness of the shot, including the bevel of the mirror and the movement of the “C” plate in the mirror reflection. I’m willing to bet most average moviegoers don’t even realize how hard this shot was to pull off. But now you know it, and don’t you already feel better about yourself?