Watch Out For Falling Debris
Look out for open manholes, too.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Nuke 'em

Nuclear holocaust. Board made flesh by director Stephen Ngo.

The catastrophe begins with a split-second flash bang. Followed by the signature of doom to a throng of irradiated millions, a scarlet mushroom cloud rising mile-high into the stratosphere, then collapsing unto itself. A lift from National Geographic? C.G.? Hell, no! We've gone this far into pushing an irreverent idea to a renewed Christian, reluctant client, might as well shoot the darn thing.

After obtaining the uranium-rich payload from a shrivelled, deteriorating arms dealer, the next big task was pinpointing the location of detonation. Due to limited budget, the Nevada nuclear test site was out of the question. Even the bomb-battered atoll lying in the outer fringes of the Pacific, yeah, it's that little island erased from existence in a flash we see often on TV, posed a logistical nightmare.

We stumbled upon a brilliant compromise, a eureka moment - Cubao. Perfect.

On the set date, the director trained his high-speed photosonic camera northward from a roof deck in a posh Makati hotel. Over a walkie-talkie, the PA gave the go signal, then static. Poor guy. He will be missed. The camera whirs to life as every passing second Cubao undergoes a topographic transmogrification gets captured on Kodak film at a rate of 150 frames per second. The mushroom cloud hovered in the air for a few minutes. But slo-mo savvy Stephen Ngo got what he came for. With a boyish grin, he takes off his thick-rimmed UV glasses and concludes what is perhaps the shortest shoot of my life. Applause. Hand shakes. Pack-up.

Murphy's Law # 28: "When everything is going right, something will go wrong."

During the color-grading, we got the surprise of our life. Chagrin is the operative word. As the ring of sonic impact expands and radiates from the base of detonation, a monolithic bas relief totally ruins the picture. Farmers Plaza. Impervious. Defiant. Shrugging off a genocidal explosion like it was a mere gust of wind.

Resorting to Paintbox manipulation in HongKong was not option. The best way to rectify the situation was to replicate the explosion from scratch via CG.

Saw the computer-generated simularcum yesterday. Impressive. Not as visceral as the real thing though.


Project "Kaboom" is at its last leg. Dave of Underground Logic, for a CG job well done, I salute you. For the vendors, notary lawyers, residents, syndicates and felons of Cubao, your collective sacrfice will not be in vain. The commercial will break in November.


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