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SCENE STEALER

'Knowing' crew lets you in on the secrets of that subway crash

March 26, 2009|Patrick Kevin Day

The visual effects team behind the Nicolas Cage disaster-fest "Knowing" wanted to make as much of the chaos of the horrifying subway crash as real as it could. So rather than going full CG, it created the scene on-set. "We were firing smoke and particles and dust and debris at the extras as they were running around," said visual effects supervisor Andrew Jackson. "You get genuine fear and them reacting to the actual things happening around them." Off-camera cannons blew chunks of polyurethane foam sculpted to look like rock and concrete into the air, along with fake glass made from a rubbery, clear silicone. But since the set was constructed around real train cars in a rail yard in Melbourne, Australia, no actual damage could be done to the subway. So, for the shot inside the tumbling subway car, a basic interior was re-created on a green-screen stage where the set could be rotated on a gimbal, bouncing around the actors like tennis shoes in a clothes dryer. "That one had to be done differently, the nature of what we needed the actors to be able to do," Jackson explained. "You couldn't fake that sort of tumbling."

-- Patrick Kevin Day

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