Whenever I want to fire a zat blast, morph a replicator, or blow up a spaceship, I call on visual effects wizard Mark Savela and his gifted crew. If, on the other hand, I’m looking to gun down a wraith, backhand someone through a railing, or torch a hapless Jaffa, then I go to the masters of practical effects: Wray Douglas and Scott Stofer.
While, on the surface, flinging someone across the room and into a wall may seem straightforward enough, the truth is setting up and executing such a stunt demands intricate planning and careful execution. Truth be told, specialists in the field of practical effects require great patience, an eye for detail, and an affinity for blowing things up. Wray and Scott possess all three. Marty G. tells of an incident during the filming of a season three episode that required a fireball-like explosion. The director yelled action and the explosion was triggered, an awesome blast that shook the stage and engulfed the corridor in an astounding fireball. The director yelled cut. The cast and crew stood, stunned, the detonation still reverberating through the set. At which point Martin glanced over and spotted Wray, off to the side, laughing away like a supervillain who’d just wiped Paris off the map.
These guys love their work. And it shows.
Take Friday’s fog test for instance. Wray and Scott were the guys who made it happen, getting up at 2:30 a.m. in order to set up the machines and ensure the stage was suitably fogged-up for when us lazy laggards rolled in at a sweet 6:00 a.m. Then, when it came time to test some squib hits, Scott was there to take the bullet.
“What’s a squib hit?”you may ask. Well, a squib is a tiny explosive device used in film and television to simulate a bullet hit. In the case of Whispers, we wanted to test a variety squib hits to find out which showed up better in the fog.
We set up for the shot and gathered around the monitors. “Loud bang coming up!”warned Scott. Everyone covered their ears (except me since I was holding my camera, sacrificing my hearing for your edutainment). 3-2-1. Scott triggered the squib. Bang! Alas, the first test proved near unreadable. We went again, this time with the white dust hit. 3-2-1. Bang! Better, but still not quite what we were looking for. Finally, we tried the black dust hit. 3-2-1. Bang! Great. Taken down to a third the impact, it will prove a perfect bullet hit for what we have in mind.
Thanks to everyone who participated in the BOTM club discussions on The Keep. And an extra special thanks to author F. Paul Wilson for coming by to field our questions. For those of you curious about Paul’s take on the film version of his novel, I have added the appropriate link to the Q&A: http://www.the-keep.ath.cx/default_en.htm Just scroll down the left sidebar and click on the F. Paul Wilson interview link.
From horror to fantasy, tomorrow we move on to our third and final BOTM selection for April: The Empire of Ice Cream by Jeffrey Ford. Make sure to finish up because Jeff will be dropping in early to help kick off the discussion.
Today’s entry is dedicated to soon-to-be-birthday-gal Squeakiep.
Today’s pics: Setting up for the squib test.
Today’s videos: Squib hits. 1. Regular squib hit. 2. White dust hit. 3. Black dust hit.