Fake snow in movies always looks unrealistic, and this is why.

Why Does Snow Always Look So Fake in the Movies?

Why Does Snow Always Look So Fake in the Movies?

Looking closer at pop culture.
Dec. 21 2017 11:24 AM

Why Is It So Hard to Make Realistic Snow in the Movies?

A fake snow specialist explains.

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In movies as far apart as Star Wars and Fargo, realistic snow on screen has always been a unique challenge. Filmmakers have thrown money and experts at this problem over the years, but despite advances in technology, including CGI, making the white stuff look real remains difficult.

In this episode of Watch Smarter, Slate's video series that spots and deconstructs tropes in pop culture, we consider early attempts at movie snow—they'd use pretty much anything that looked white and flakey, like salt and flour and even asbestos—and then into more sophisticated methods used today. A lot of factors play into what kind of fake snow will produce the most realistic-looking result. It's not an easy feat, but thankfully we have snow specialists.

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Shon Arieh-Lerer is a writer, producer, and a member of the comedy group His Majesty, the Baby.

Scott McGhee is an editor and animator.