Monday, December 04, 2006

guano and jet engines

Kieran Thomas spent a long time sculpting a large statue out of clay, then formed a glassfibre mould from it.

This he then painted a beautiful verdigris to create a realistic ancient metal statue. I lit it very simply with two lights and a plain sky behind to keep all attention focussed in the centre.

We covered it in guano of course.

At around the same time, Manon was wondering how to construct a working realistic jet engine for a shot involving a crazy adrenaline-junkie crow. She contacted Rolls Royce who have been building airplane engines here in North Bristol since the second world war. They had a spare correct sized engine we could use, provided we didn't damage it...
Al and Dave rigged this onto a large scaffolding rig about 10' long, obviously it's very heavy so it was set at a slight angle to eliminate the possibility of falling forwards and squashing the Animator. The riggers then liaised with George, our MoCo expert, to figure out how to turn the huge vanes which go all the way back through the engine. They found a way of attaching a pole to a central spindle, and gearing a motor so it could push the weight.
George could then program a move on a controlling computer which would slowly ramp up the jet one frame at a time, it was essential that this "move" be repeatable so that I could shoot a plate later to remove any visible rigs and each frame match up. It was also important to eliminate "strobing", or the flicker effect you get when moving objects nearly line up. We carefully set the engine speed to look dangerous in the first shot, but still give us extra speed left to use in the second. Thankfully it pushes past the strobe, and starts to do a pleasing backwards wagon wheel effect as it goes faster..

Somone said to me on set that you can always see through the engine once it's spinning so I put a huge lamp behind to try to punch some daylight back through all those fins, I also set up a lot of soft lights to create the ominous stormy look set by the dense cloudy sky.
We also rigged some tiny lights on the airport control tower, along with a pulsing wingtip light, spending far too long discussing when the airplane lights are on/off on the runway or in the air, better go look it up..
Cath and Susie dressed the set with a tiny airport and false perspective runway while Damien skinned the inside of the engine with a liner and cowling we could paint and attach rigs to, he also remade the nose cone with a jazzy blue and white spiral and finished it all with an air blasted look.

Here's a frame from the finished shot, not bad eh?

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