The complex notion of destroying the world in ‘2012’

Nov. 19, 2009 | 3:18 a.m.

Scene Stealer


Liesl Bradner has interviewed many of the masters of Hollywood effects in our Wizards of Hollywood section of Hero Complex and today takes a look at a particular moment during “2012” in this installment of Scene Stealer.

The disaster film “2012” reunites director Roland Emmerich and visual effects supervisor Volker Engel, who first worked together 13 years ago on another end-of-the-world movie, “Independence Day.” How apocalyptic times have changed. The key destruction scenes in that earlier film consisted of 90% miniatures, a common practice when things need to be blown up, leaving only 10% of the elements to be computer-generated.

By comparison, nearly half of “2012” is visual effects. Because of the complexity of the destruction scenes it was impossible to use miniatures.

“The limo-in-earthquake was the most challenging scene, as it could not be shot at all but had to be completely created in the computer with inserts of the actors reacting to the mayhem,” said Engel from Berlin, where he is collaborating with Emmerich on “Anonymous,” a quiet Shakespearean drama.

Except for a few shots of a real limo filmed against a blue screen, the five-second crane shot in a residential neighborhood was completely virtual. The bird’s-eye view of the neighborhood buckling with every crumbling house, swaying palm tree, fence, car, sidewalk, garbage can and the limousine were all computer-generated because each one of those elements had to be simulated to shake, break or tumble.

— Liesl Bradner



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The mysterious messages of “2012”

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2 Responses to The complex notion of destroying the world in ‘2012’

  1. Windwolf says:

    Since the end of the world in 2012 perdictions are coming from every direction, and from different times in history, I can't help but take these seriously. Therefore I'm planing on spending a great deal of money, time and effort to insure that myself and my loved ones will survive.
    But I'm warning all those living predictors, including the producers of 2012, that may survive what more likely be "THE END," if this fateful year passes without an actual ending, I'm going to initiate a class action suit against these perpetrators for damages.

  2. David Roberts says:

    2012 could be the worst over computerized piece of nothing I have ever seen. Sad display of waste. Other than that I loved it.

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