I was watching this week’s episode of Agents of Shield and an evil genius has rounded up a bunch of criminally insane super Villains,  like so many comic books plots from history.

An ugly man takes off his BAIN type face mask and yells a loud screen in the middle of a football field.  So loud it seems,  that the director wasn’t pleased with a normal yell, and hired animators to CGI his face,  and allow for a distorted mega jaw that opened wide enough to fill with a watermelon.

It’s conveniently a football field,  because we’re already so conditioned to judge distances in this metric.  Anything bigger than a car is always compared to a football field or two. It seems we all know how big one football field is. 

In this scene, the players are standing at one end,  and they drop to the ground when the roar reaches them.  A moment later,  all the cheerleaders at the other end of the field drop as well.  Another moment passes, and all the black birds in the sky fall to the ground too. A dramatic scene.

I was impressed at the accuracy of this timing, and the attention to detail.  The birds all fell while in flight,  so of course they fell at an angle.  In many other films,  animals dropping from the sky open fall straight down,  like rain without wind. Flying birds wouldn’t drop straight down.  Perhaps raining cats and dogs would be more vertical,  but birds would flow this way,  and in random intervals.

They did well. I liked it enough to pause and blog.

This is what my brain thinks about when I watch TV.  Inside my brain is a DVD commentary of imagination. I can almost hear the director discussing various options, and imagine the back stage arguments and discussions with the effects crew. 

The sound of dropping birds was also impressive. It was a soft thud, aided by the fact that they were all hitting the same soft green AstroTurf surface.

I wondered to myself what the budget must have been for this scene. It went by quickly, and it wasn’t clear whether they used 50 real birds, or added them in digitally, but either way, it was an expensive 3 seconds. An average Agents of Shield episode has a number of special digital effects you’d expect, like whenever they use their special red corvette or invisible jets, but to me – a bunch of dead birds was equally impressive.

I didn’t remember to watch if the end credits were there to assure us all,  no actual birds were harmed during the filming of this episode.  That was how they would have done it in the 70’s.