Magazine article American Cinematographer

Of Miniatures and Mayhem

Magazine article American Cinematographer

Of Miniatures and Mayhem

Article excerpt

In a paradox of the filmmaking art, effects are often created on a small scale in order to make them larger than life on the screen

My first impression from reading the screenplay of FOR YOUR EYES ONLY was that it would not present as much of a challenge as MOONRAKER. There seemed to be far more action centered around places and things that really existed and, therefore, not so much would have to be created on the effects stage.

Except for the sinking of the trawler, St. George, everything was for real, even the two-man sub and the Mantis. But I found that the challenges came about in different areas.

For a start, the trawler could not actually be sunk, even for a Bond film. We had to match the light and sea conditions on the exterior tank at Pinewood that a second unit had experienced in August with the real trawler in the North sea-and shoot in mid-November. No mean task in England that time of year when the sun is so low that there were only two hours in the middle of the day when the surrounding trees weren't casting shadows on the backing.

Derek Meddings' team of model makers had to make a good job of the St. George because after it was sunk in the exterior tank, it was raised and used in the 007 Stage, underwater, and shot on very closely.

The destruction of the paper warehouse was to have been shot on the Albanian location, (actually the Greek island of Corfu), but for some reason this couldn't happen. The whole harbor and surroundings had to be built in miniature and destroyed at Pinewood.

When a set is scaled down to one-fifth its size, the lamps used to light it should also be scaled down. Theoretically this is possible. A 10K becomes a 2K, etc. However, to create scale and weight, the scene has to be shot at five times normal speed, especially when explosions are called for. The 10K that has become a 2K needs to remain that size, but have the intensity of a 10K. Any pool of light to be matched from the full-scale location has to be the scaled-down size, but of five times the intensity.

To date, the most satisfactory lamps I have found for this purpose are the clip-on Jupiter Quartz units. They are of high intensity, compact and convenient for hiding behind miniature walls and buildings. I used 60 of these on one shot of the warehouse disintegration.

The opening helicopter sequence shot by Jimmy Devis needed our help. While Bond is fighting to gain control of the radio-controlled helicopter, it is seen to enter an abandoned warehouse, fly around and leave again. …

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