In The Flash, Barry Allen uses his superhuman speed to protect the citizens of Central City from other metahuman threats. Unfortunately, series star Grant Gustin isn’t capable of moving faster than the blink of an eye, but thanks to the wonders of technology, the CW has been able to successfully make him look like he’s the fastest man alive, and now fans have the inside scoop on how this is accomplished from the source himself...well, the guy doing the running, that is.
In a recent interview, Gustin explained how The Flash team is able to look like he is running hundreds of miles an hour on the TV screen, and as expected, it involves a lot of physical exertion.
“They’ll put me on a treadmill in front of a green screen, hooked up to a harness. I’ll run, and they’ll blow wind on me and make it look like I’m going real fast.”
However, he also told Inquirer.net that a green screen, treadmill and fan are only a part of the process. The post-production team also uses cameras and computers to add to the illusion.
“Also, they took around 16,000 pictures of my face and body so they could create a digital double of my body. So, it will be me running, then it transitions to the digi-double, and they morph all that together to make it look like I’m the fastest man alive!”
He may not be empowered by the Speed Force, but Gustin is speedy in his own right. When asked if he runs fast in real life, Gustin mentioned that in school he was nicknamed “Thunder Foot” because he could “kick the ball so far and run so fast.” While Flash’s speed was demonstrated in live-action in the short-lived 1990 series, today’s visual effects allow it to be translated in a way that looks as if the Scarlet Speedster jumped right out of the pages of a comic book. This is especially demonstrated from the lightning trailing him as he runs, which is not only one of the characters’ trademarks, but also distinguishes his speed from the standard ‘whooshy’ way of presenting super speed in movies and television.
Given all the different types of visual effects The Flash creates for its metahumans and unusual gadgets, it’s good to know the show has a good handle on its protagonist’s main power. That being said, Barry is capable of more than just running fast, so hopefully the production team is working hard to figure out how they’ll demonstrate his other abilities in future episodes, like phasing through walls or rotating his arms so fast that they produce vortexes. Those should be impressive sights.