A 1/4 scale model was constructed of the three houses involved in the crash and was photographed as a hanging miniature at a local golf course to take advantage of the background vista and foliage. The plane was mounted on a track and was propelled through the path on a shot by shot basis. The miniature neighborhood models were constructed with wild walls that were removed so the plane could actually go through the shot at speed and not have to slow down or damage areas not featured in the earlier shots. The wild walls were replaced via a second pass of the walls and ground in place. Special breakaway sections were created for close-up work featuring a portion of the plane's landing gear tearing through the tiled roofs.
The woman ducking as the wheel pierces her bedroom was shot practically on stage with a portion of the landing gear on a track. For safety reasons the stuntwoman mimed her actions in the set and was rotoscoped back in to the take.
The shot where the man comes out of his bathroom as the wing slices through his house was created as a miniature and green screen composite. The wing section was mounted to a forklift and literally driven into the 1/4 scale set. The camera was running at 40 fps to scale the destruction.
All the explosions were rigged to the model and tripped via micro switches mounted on the track and were shot at approximately 40 fps.
The same three houses were reconfigured many times to appear to be the rest of the neighborhood, and used as background plates for the cockpit shots. One wider shot that features the rest of the block was created with photographs of full-size houses and matted into our miniature set.
The scene culminates on a shot of the full-size set and a full-size replica of the damaged plane mounted by wires from an overhead crane track rig. The shot cuts from the miniature slamming through frame and the full-size replica crashing into a brick wall.
The sequence that follows is comprised mostly of full-size physical effects with some added smoke and additional fire added as needed. (See physical effects section for further detail)
HERCULES (SPRUCE GOOSE):
This sequence mainly consists of a motion-controlled 1/16th scale model photographed outside to take advantage of natural sunlight, sky and reflections. CG water and the background were added via matte painting and photographic elements.
The interior shots were all shot green screen with helicopter plates and matte paintings used as backgrounds outside the windows.
HERCULES (SPRUCE GOOSE) RC MODEL:
An RC model was constructed from the molds of the moco 1/16th scale Hercules and flown in the exact location the original flew more than 57 years ago. Our plane also took off from the water and was flown within 2 feet of a foreground extra portraying a newsreel cameraman to give the plane proper scale. In order to maintain the illusion of scale and distance, the extra had to point his prop camera where the real plane would have been, some 20 times farther away, to keep from giving away the in-camera illusion.
A shot featuring a down angle (not included on the reel) was also an RC shot where CG boats were added to give it scale.
HERCULES DOCKED FOR POST FLIGHT CELEBRATION:
These two shots featuring the Hercules docked employed the age-old technique of a hanging miniature. In appropriate scale the model, dock and tent were placed approximately 2-3' from the lens with extras and moving period trucks placed 100' feet from the camera. Additional extras, CG water and distant buildings were added in post to complete the illusion.
The benefit of employing such a technique is twofold. More than 85% of the image is real and shot under natural sunlight and the setup is incredibly fast to photograph. In less than an hour from start to finish each shot was photographed and shot under optimum natural lighting conditions. Since the majority of the models were constructed for other purposes the implementation of this technique was very cost effective for us and fit into our in-house work flow perfectly.