Since Bitches Leeve mentioned water giving away the illusion in True Lies, I wanted to post about Dante's Peak, given that miniature water effects are extremely hard to pull off convincingly. Even by 2002 and Two Towers, there are moments where the "water filmed in slow motion" technique used to stage an imitation deluge doesn't always look quite right. Everyone instinctively knows how water looks in motion, and so when your using a smaller volume of water to simulate a flood, often times you're left with water that doesn't quite react properly with the right sense of weight or scale.
Not the case in Dante's Peak, a film VFXHQ.com declares to have "one of the best miniature disaster sequences in cinema history".
Excerpted from an article titled IT'S A LITTLE HARD TO HIDE A MINIATURE SET THAT'S SO BIG:
The largest of the many mini sets at the airport was divided into two separate sections. On the right, a 30-foot-long bridge allowed toylike cars to cross a churning river. Off to the left, a 25-foot-tall dam blocked the river's path.
Perched above both sets was an expansive water tank filled with milky, murky water. On the opposite side of these sets, nearly 500 feet away, a larger tank sat empty. It waited, ready for the flood.
The water team was responsible for moving 780,000 gallons from the top of each set to the opposite side in only five minutes.
``We had to move about 140,000 gallons per minute. That's more water than all the water rides in California pumping at once,'' said Dean Miller, a special-effects supervisor who handled all the water work and engineering for the film.
When the water was finally loosed, it was felt for miles and struck with the force of a 3.0 earthquake.
These days it is harder than ever to pull off a convincing flood effect on film. After last March, everyone knows just what the worst case scenario looks like in real life. Though Eastwood's Hereafter had an admirably staged tsunami scene, our eyes could still tell that we were watching a clever effect. With the bridge sequence in Dante's Peak, however, which I recently rewatched for the first time in years, I was initially unsure how they'd pulled off the shots I was watching. In the end, the only part of the scene that doesn't hold up are some wonky composites for shots where we're inside the cars looking out. The wideshots themselves are utterly impeccable:
Edited by Dr Harford - 7/31/12 at 12:30pm