The video Solving 3 Rubik's Cubes in under 20 seconds whilst Juggling Mills Mess uploaded by RuboCube to YouTube on March 15 2016, was made by Leo Weston, Richard Russell, James Dooley and Lorenzo Newell, all of whom are VFX Artists at Deluxe's Rushes.
To answer the biggest question about the video: The skill on display here is expertise in seamless digital effects work (and juggling) — not physical solving of the Rubik's cubes.
In their own time and in between working on commercials for leading global brands, Rushes VFX artists like to indulge in a little creativity of their own. Lead VFX Artist Leo Weston has had a passion for juggling, since picking it up at 12 years old, and a fascination with the Rubik’s Cube. However, as accomplished as Leo is in both skills, we must confess that not everything is as it appears in the video.
A lot of the visual effects created at Rushes and across the industry are “Invisible VFX.” These days, CGI is ubiquitous across film, TV and commercials, and even the most unexpected spot will involve some skilful yet discreet tinkering. Most people would not be aware of the kind of hours that go into creating those illusions, but that just means we’re doing our jobs right. The whole art of it is making sure that the work doesn’t stand out. Like with great lighting, or sound, if you notice these things it actually means that something’s wrong; these crafts should not be noticeable!
Nowadays, the magic of VFX and post-production help filmmakers conjure up anything they imagine, 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. Can we ever trust what we see, an initial response, predominantly and often reasonably asked: Is this real, or is this fake?
This question has dominated the comments sections wherever Leo’s video has been posted, from YouTube, Facebook and Reddit, to The Huffington Post, The Mirror, The Metro, USA Today, and The Telegraph. Intended as an exercise in creativity, providing training for more junior members of the team and as an example of the kind of invisible visual effects work we do at Rushes, we have been astounded by the pick-up of the video across the internet. We hope people have enjoyed the illusion.
You can see a breakdown of the process behind the viral hit, which has garnered over 15 million views, on Rushes Vimeo page.