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XF-11 CRASH:

This dramatic sequence involved extensive preparation and the coordination with virtually every department on the set. The extent of our work entailed 3 weeks with 40 technicians to perform this exciting and dangerous sequence. The physical elements involved the following:

  1. Construction of a full size XF-11 with a 101 ft. wingspan that was cut in sections for this portion of the film.
  2. Construction of the interior set sub-structure out of steel to prevent collapse of the room.
  3. Installation of shaker motors to the backside of the interior set walls, under tables and furniture to simulate the violent shaking caused by the landing gear cutting through the roof.
  4. Pre-scoring the ceiling with breakaway materials and rigging a 75 ft. track and cable system to pull the full size landing gear through the ceiling with falling debris without injury to performers.
  5. Supervising the construction of an exterior house set also with steel reinforcement for the controlled fire explosions activated by propane mortars, installation of a liquid propane gas fire system involving over 3,000 feet of piping and multi-position controls.
  6. Construction of foreground fire rigs and two large 3-tiered, 15 ft. high x 16ft. x 20ft. fire troughs, through which thousands of gallons of gasoline were pumped to create the huge background fires.
  7. Rigging and executing the interior cockpit fires for the intense hatch escape sequence as well as creation of a benzyl peroxide blast of flames into Hughes's face, producing a flame under 170 degrees to avoid injury to the stunt performer.
  8. Cable rigging and deceleration system for the hurling of the aircraft toward camera as it crashes to the ground.
  9. Creating the backlit swirling smoke as the rescuer runs through to assist Hughes and the crash aftermath smoldering effects.

In closing I wish to thank Rob Legato and my colleagues in the Visual Effects Department who worked so well with us. I would also like to thank our director Martin Scorsese, and our producers Graham King and Michael Mann. I especially appreciate the Academy Visual Effects Committee members who have honored us with a position in the VFX Bakeoff.

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  • Warner Bros. Pictures
  • Miramax
  • Initial Entertainment Group