Sunday 15 February 2015

The Abyss 1989 Part 2

This is part 2. Part 1 is here, Part 3 is here, Part 4 is here and Part 5 is here.

Submersibles 1/8 scale

Models of Cab1, Cab 3 and Flatbed were constructed by Design Setters. They were shot dry in a motion controlled smoke filled environment at Dreamquest  and supervised by Hoyt Yeatman.

They had to have mini back projectors inside them to project the prefilmed 35mm crew footage seen in the bubble glass cockpits. The size of this equipment dictated the smallest possible size of the miniatures which then was determined to be 1/8 scale. They each hung on a 9 wire rig known as a Krzanowski rig named after its developer and engineer Tad Krzanowski. The nine wires connected to the models at three triangulated points, 3 wires to each point. The wires lead back up over pulleys at the end of 9 equi-spaced radial arms and mount to something similar to a helicopter swash plate which is motion controlled to produce all the yaw, roll and tilt motions required. Three such rigs were then slung from an overhead gantry that was in turn motion controlled to provide the major forward-back, left-right motion. The camera in turn is also motion controlled.

The Krzanowski rig.

The size of the models meant that the internal batteries would only last about 45 mins. The batteries had to power all the high intensity bulbs, each model having between 10 and 15 lights each, and the mini rear projector. To conserve power, the lights had to be turned on whilst the camera's shutter was open and turned off while it was closed. This light switching task was also hooked up to the motion control system. It was found that the wires allowed the models to vibrate as they came to a stop. As long as the speed of each pass was the same the vibration was the same. It meant that if a speed of 5 frames per second was needed in order to expose correctly for the internal rear projection, all the other passes had to be shot at the same 5 frames per second. Generally there were two passes for the submersible lights, one to simulate the strong underwater attenuation filmed in heavy smoke and a pass filmed in a lighter application of smoke for the hot core. A very subtle fill pass was also deemed necessary to help show the difference between Cab 1 and Cab 3 which were white and orange respectively. The camera lens was gelled blue and submersibles in the background would be gelled bluer in another set of passes, each lighting pass built up on the same piece of film which was rewound each time. Then there was the rear projection pass which was recorded on a new piece of film to be added in later using an optical printer.



The flat bed model carried miniature diver figures whose heads could be turned by motion control. Streams of bubbles had to be filmed against black and tracked in on a pin block in an animation stand later so they lined up correctly with the little figures.

Bubble pass being shot.

Deepcore 1/8 scale

For shots with closer interaction between Deepcore and the 1/8 scale wire hung motion control miniature submersibles, a 1/8 scale model Deepcore was constructed by Design setters. This model was also shot dry in a motion controlled smoke environment at Dreamquest  and supervised by Hoyt Yeatman.

Montana 1/8 scale

To go with the 1/8 scale submersibles a 1/8 scale wrecked Ohio class submarine Montana set was built by Design Setters. To scale it should have been 70 feet (21.34m) long  but 10 feet were extracted out to help fit it in the studio making it 60 feet (18.29m) long.


Montana 1/40 scale

For the opening shots of the Montana cruising through the deep and being menaced by an unknown craft a 14 foot (4.27m) 1/40 scale fiberglass model was constructed by Goldberg and Company and shot in smoke and motion controlled at Dreamquest.

Montana approx 1/12 scale

An approximately forty foot (12m) long Montana was built by Wonderworks for underwater filming of the crash sequence. It was built in three sections to enable transport and had a central spindle to allow for a rolling action down the abyss.  A lot of the skin of the hull was made from thin sheet aluminium so that it would deform when hit. The front was constructed from a spun aluminium dome. Sections were of fiberglass with breakaway areas of thin sheet lead. The interior was loaded with miniature debris to spill out on collision.

The sequence was shot in A tank after the main unit had finished as it needed the extra depth. Pete Romano rode the sub holding the camera as it was pulled by block and tackle into the rock wall. Again as it was being shot high speed it needed to go at a pretty decent clip. Once it hit the wall a cable was rigged to make it roll over the edge. To enhance the shots of it falling, it was loaded with diatomaceous earth which streamed off like a trail of sand and silt.

In Part 3 we look at the 1/4 scale submersibles and the NTI Arc miniatures.

Part 1 is here, Part 3 is here, Part 4 is here and Part 5 is here.

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