TheRaider.net
 

Go Back   The Raven > The Films > Indiana Jones Trilogy
User Name
Password

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 08-24-2011, 11:19 PM   #1
superado
IndyFan
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 12
TOD Inflatable Raft FX?

Hi all,

Iíve been searching and searching online for any behind the scenes info about the inflatable raft scene in TOD, but to no avail. Iím just really curious to read all about the details that went into that effects shot.

What Iíve seen here in Raiders.net and elsewhere are the various write-ups from American Cinematographer and other film magazines and or books, I think, and these detail the airport scene where a real Trimotor was used, the miniature scenes of the Trimotor flying over the Great Wall of China and the scenes in which it skims over the mountain tops and crashes.

Then thereís the live-action stunt scene with the raft going down the mountain, off a cliff, in the rapids, etc. However, thereís nothing I could find about the effect when the parachute pops out of the Trimotorís door, inflates and then drifts down to the mountain side. Surely itís a miniature, but has anyone come across this information? Were there any puppets of Indy, SR and Willie? Was it one long take from the plane's door to the slope? It would be very interesting to know. Thanks guys!
superado is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-25-2011, 11:58 AM   #2
JuniorJones
TR.N Staff Member
 
JuniorJones's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Scannerland.
Posts: 1,983
Quote:
Originally Posted by superado
Hi all,

Iíve been searching and searching online for any behind the scenes info about the inflatable raft scene in TOD, but to no avail. Iím just really curious to read all about the details that went into that effects shot.

What Iíve seen here in Raiders.net and elsewhere are the various write-ups from American Cinematographer and other film magazines and or books, I think, and these detail the airport scene where a real Trimotor was used, the miniature scenes of the Trimotor flying over the Great Wall of China and the scenes in which it skims over the mountain tops and crashes.

Then thereís the live-action stunt scene with the raft going down the mountain, off a cliff, in the rapids, etc. However, thereís nothing I could find about the effect when the parachute pops out of the Trimotorís door, inflates and then drifts down to the mountain side. Surely itís a miniature, but has anyone come across this information? Were there any puppets of Indy, SR and Willie? Was it one long take from the plane's door to the slope? It would be very interesting to know. Thanks guys!

Try this...

http://raven.theraider.net/showpost....&postcount=212
JuniorJones is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-25-2011, 05:31 PM   #3
emtiem
IndyFan
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: London, UK
Posts: 589
Great link! It doesn't cover how they did the actual drop of the raft, but to be honest I've always thought it's just what it appears to be: a full-size inflating raft being chucked out of a full-sized plane.

I always like that shot of it going over the cliff which appears to have been shot in a grim quarry north of London on an overcast day
emtiem is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-26-2011, 10:53 PM   #4
superado
IndyFan
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 12
Thanks for posting the link, JuniorJones. Actually, that confirms Cinefex as the source for the articles I came across online; I wonder what the TOD issue of American Cinematographer had to say about that scene? Can anyone who has that issue please confirm? Anyway, the write-up about the Ford Trimotor miniature shots sadly omits details of the raft deployment. What does make that sequence fascinating to me is how realistic it seemed as well as how seamless it was, in that that raft deploying out of the door and hitting the slope all in one take. Yet, I don't think they used a real Trimotor because of the practical considerations of such a shot (the plane's reliability, rarity, etc. I just read somewhere that there are less than 20 existing Trimotors in existence!)
superado is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-27-2011, 05:00 PM   #5
emtiem
IndyFan
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: London, UK
Posts: 589
Quite a few snippets about the plane and the sequence in the comments on this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpam467FgCA

And here's the real plane: http://www.fantasyofflight.com/aircr...rdtrimotor.htm

I'm amazed those flight shots are miniatures; I never knew that- they're amazing.
emtiem is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-29-2011, 11:58 PM   #6
superado
IndyFan
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by emtiem
Quite a few snippets about the plane and the sequence in the comments on this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpam467FgCA

And here's the real plane: http://www.fantasyofflight.com/aircr...rdtrimotor.htm

I'm amazed those flight shots are miniatures; I never knew that- they're amazing.

Thanks for posting, Entiem, very interesting tidbits. I wish I had the $8,000 or so when props like that go on auction! It would have been fun to travel on that vintage Trimotor over the 4 days travel from California to Florida.
superado is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-30-2011, 10:31 AM   #7
Stoo
IndyFan
 
Stoo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Neuch‚tel, Switzerland (Canadian from Montreal)
Posts: 7,913
Quote:
Originally Posted by superado
What does make that sequence fascinating to me is how realistic it seemed as well as how seamless it was, in that that raft deploying out of the door and hitting the slope all in one take. Yet, I don't think they used a real Trimotor because of the practical considerations of such a shot (the plane's reliability, rarity, etc. I just read somewhere that there are less than 20 existing Trimotors in existence!)
Hi, Superado. It looks realistic because the plane was the real deal. (One telling clue is that all 3 propellors are spinning. If it were a model, the motors would probably be stopped like they were in the other crashing shots.) The actual Trimotor was also used for the window shots of the failing engines and the sunset takeoff.

From "The Complete Making of Indiana Jones", pg. 158:
"Their first destination was California's Mammoth Mountain Crest's Ridge Run (and 'Secret Spot') ski area, where they filmed the raft jump and landing."

Hope that answers your question.
Stoo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-04-2014, 08:14 PM   #8
superado
IndyFan
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stoo
Hi, Superado. It looks realistic because the plane was the real deal. (One telling clue is that all 3 propellors are spinning. If it were a model, the motors would probably be stopped like they were in the other crashing shots.) The actual Trimotor was also used for the window shots of the failing engines and the sunset takeoff.

From "The Complete Making of Indiana Jones", pg. 158:
"Their first destination was California's Mammoth Mountain Crest's Ridge Run (and 'Secret Spot') ski area, where they filmed the raft jump and landing."

Hope that answers your question.

Thank you, Stoo, the spinning props are a good indicator and one I hadn't considered.

Also, regarding the Cinefex article mentioned in an earlier post, http://raven.theraider.net/showpost....&postcount=212, a key take-away for me is the mention of the aereal footage having both real plane and model work:

“Since only part of the required aerial footage could be obtained with the vintage aircraft procured fro the show, the Trimotor flying scenes were augmented at ILM with miniature and motion control photography.”

I think the problem with most of what's found online is the use of absolute expressions like "all of the flying sequences were done in miniature... " or the like, since events were often just recounted by writers according to what they were told by film makers.

I found this interesting article in Starlog Magazine Issue 094, about Robert Watts' mention of that sequence (https://archive.org/stream/starlog_m...e/n25/mode/2up). He also used absolute language, but looking carefully at what he said tells us it's limited to the inflating raft sequence as it goes out the plane door:

“Raft Stunts & Chases. Most of the movie’s action still lies ahead when Indy and companions arrive in India. After jumping out of a powerless airplane and riding down a mountain on a life raft, the trio are glad just to be alive. “The inflatable life raft sequence, in the main, is all shot for real,” Watts reveals. “We did actually pitch a raft out of an aircraft, and it inflated in mid-air and hit the snow. Getting that in one shot was another piece of dumb luck. I had always imagined that we would pitch the thing out of the plane, have the raft inflate, and it would hit the mountainside or a rock-and we wouldn’t be able to use the actual landing. “We just go lucky, because you can’t aim for complete success in that situation: you have a period aircraft flying through the air, with some guys inside throwing the raft out. But it actually hit the snow as you see in the film, and then the reverse cut-which was done about five months earlier-matches. The actual hit matches beautifully. You know, you get lucky sometimes.”

Interestingly, this bit from one of the TOD producers isn't mentioned in the usual behind-the-scene sources available online; it would be interesting to read about or watch behind-the-scene stuff about what took place inside that plane during the shoot. By the way, does anyone know what a "reverse-cut" is, specifically in context to what Watts mentioned?

Last edited by superado : 04-04-2014 at 08:19 PM.
superado is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-24-2014, 06:19 PM   #9
Stoo
IndyFan
 
Stoo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Neuch‚tel, Switzerland (Canadian from Montreal)
Posts: 7,913
Quote:
Originally Posted by superado
Interestingly, this bit from one of the TOD producers isn't mentioned in the usual behind-the-scene sources available online; it would be interesting to read about or watch behind-the-scene stuff about what took place inside that plane during the shoot. By the way, does anyone know what a "reverse-cut" is, specifically in context to what Watts mentioned?
Superado, thanks for posting the excerpt. I had stopped buying "Starlog" in 1983 so I've never read that interview. It's such a great shot. They got the toss, the drop & the hit all in one.

A 'reverse cut/shot' is essentially where the camera faces the opposite direction of the previous shot. In this case, Watts is referring to when the raft hits the ground and is slightly moving towards the camera + the following shot of it speeding away from the camera. As he said, the two shots match beautifully since the bounce in both makes a good blend. (From a fluid editing standpoint, it's perfect but from a physical standpoint, it doesn't match because Indy & Co. switch from one of end of the raft to the other.)

Personally, I would love to know how close to the ground the plane was. My rough estimate would be about 500 feet. Anyone know?
Stoo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-24-2014, 06:41 PM   #10
russds
IndyFan
 
russds's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 277
There's actually a little bit from Frank Marshall himself in this interview http://www.aintitcool.com/node/67370 regarding the inflatble raft. I've pasted the relivant parts below. It's actually pretty interesting how he compares the practical effects of the 80's vs the CGI of today, and how small details like the crashing of snow and what not looked great, because they were real, and might have been missed with CGI.

Quote:
Frank Marshall: Those were the days when it was so exciting, the challenge of how do we do it. Like, the bit where they jump out of a plane on a life raft. Today somebody would be in a little room drawing it somewhere. We actually had to do it!

We were based up in San Anselmo, where Lucasfilm was in those days, and in the area where we would go to lunch most days there was a life raft manufacturer. So I went over there one day and said, “Here, I got a challenge for you. We need this life raft and we need it to inflate as it goes out of an airplane.” He looked at me like, “Have you lost your mind!?!” I said, “No, it's a movie.” “Oh, okay.”

They designed this life raft that when tossed out, the ripcord would pull something and it would inflate. Then we found the tri-motor (plane). We always felt the more real things we can use, the more fun and the better it's going to look. We found this tri-motor and it happened to be up there in the Bay Area. There was this guy who had a golf course and landed it on his golf course. We found this tri-motor and it was perfect. Steven loved it and George loved it.

We took 2nd unit up to Mammoth Peak and set the cameras up. We had these three dolls that we'd made that we set up inside the raft. Now, this was all theory. This old tri-motor would fly, first of all, to Mammoth, which is high altitude. The pilot was the owner, this old guy.

So, we put a couple of stunt men in the plane to throw this thing out. This thing came out and I'm watching it and it perfectly balances, unfolds right side up, the people are in it, it comes down and hits and bounces and they're weighted enough where it looks real and then slides down. We all looked at each other and I was waiting for someone to say, “Ready when you are, C.B.” We didn't have monitors or playback or anything. I said, “I think we got it.” I looked at the three or four cameramen and they went (thumbs up). I said, “We're done!” The shot that's in the movie is the first take. One shot. Unbelievably exciting and cool.

Quint: What if you didn't get it that take?
Frank Marshall: We had another... we'd just do it again. We'd have to try it again.

Quint: What if it just never worked?
Frank Marshall: Then I guess we would have had to have gone with a visual effects shot. We'd just fly the plane over and then send it to ILM and say, “Put the raft in.”

So, we did that and then we went to Twin Falls, Idaho. That's where we threw the raft off the cliff. Then we went to the American River (in California) and we shot the raft in the rapids. So we did all real. It was like this little adventure unit.

Quint: It's funny. Critics of the movie always point to the life raft scene was being too unrealistic and I've always countered that with, “Maybe, but they really did it! That's a real shot!”
Frank Marshall: That's true. Granted, there weren't people in it, but it still landed, didn't deflate, and started tobogganing down the hill.

Quint: It is literally real! It could be a one in a thousand moment you guys captured, but it's not a trick shot.
Frank Marshall: That's the thing. Visual effects, which I think are great, are just a tool. I think some filmmakers today get lazy. In those days, like when we were shooting the skyline of Shanghai in Empire of the Sun, there was one modern building. It was a Holiday Inn or something. I went to shoot the coffins floating by with the skyline in the back. I put the camera here and went, “Oh, that building is in the shot.” So, then I had to figure out how to block the building, so I lowered the camera and I put a crate on the right. That actually made a better shot. Today, I would probably go “Just paint it out!” and the camera would be up here. Having to block it out made me more creative.

If you did that shot of them falling out of the plane with a CG raft... the thing about CG shots is you don't know what's missing because it's all put in. When the raft hits there's this snow that comes up in a realistic, obviously because it's real, way and you probably wouldn't have thought to put those little particles in. So something about it wouldn't look quite right.

When there's an explosion in CG you're going to forget something, which is why it's going to look fake. Unless you're putting it in, it's not going to be there. It's a great tool when used right, but I think you have to be careful with it.
russds is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-10-2014, 01:56 PM   #11
Stoo
IndyFan
 
Stoo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Neuch‚tel, Switzerland (Canadian from Montreal)
Posts: 7,913
Excellent addition, Russ! Thanks for posting. They got it on the 1st take. Man, how lucky can you get?

I also liked the anecdote about the raft manufacturer's reaction. Funny!
Stoo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-10-2014, 02:45 PM   #12
Goodeknight
IndyFan
 
Goodeknight's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Chesapeake, VA
Posts: 1,007
I wonder how much the mannequins weighed. Obviously nothing close to real people's weights, but a small raft that size might be ride-able by one person. If mannequins can handle it without flipping it over, then I'd think a person who could lay flat and hold on low (low center of gravity) could swing it.

For what it's worth, MythBusters did an episode on this stunt.



I truly detest MythBusters. I think their methodology is often completely flawed and their findings, therefore, totally unreliable. And Savage is a cocky idiot. (He is an Indy fan, though, and made a massively oversized bullwhip himself for his man cave, but that's another story.)
Goodeknight is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-10-2014, 12:00 PM   #13
superado
IndyFan
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by russds
There's actually a little bit from Frank Marshall himself in this interview http://www.aintitcool.com/node/67370 regarding the inflatble raft. I've pasted the relivant parts below. It's actually pretty interesting how he compares the practical effects of the 80's vs the CGI of today, and how small details like the crashing of snow and what not looked great, because they were real, and might have been missed with CGI.

Thanks for posting this, Russ! I think that is the most telling account so far considering the technical dimension that was revealed, which corroborates with what Robert Watts in the Starlog article had to say. I have to confess that I was still not fully convinced, considering the Cinefex article that asserted the exclusive use of miniatures for the bail-out sequence and other accounts of the real tri-motor being used only for the airport scene; I cynically thought that Watt's account in the Starlog article might have been sensationalized or romanticized to promote the film's merits of using real and dangerous stunts vs. effects since the miniature tri-motor wasn't mentioned; I've observed what I call "confused recollections" of film makers being a regular thing, surprisingly.

Also interesting to me is what hung in the balance for that stunt and what Frank Marshall said about the possibility of the sequence not working, that they would have sent the live flying sequence to ILM for processing. Considering the matte effects used for the pursuit vehicle going off the cliff in ROTLA and the mine-cliffside deluge scene in TOD, I'm glad they lucked out with the live-action raft sequence!
superado is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-12-2014, 01:53 PM   #14
emtiem
IndyFan
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: London, UK
Posts: 589
They threw the raft off the cliff in Idaho? It looks like a quarry in cloudy England!

Did they have self-inflating rafts in the 30s?
emtiem is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-09-2016, 01:25 PM   #15
superado
IndyFan
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by emtiem
They threw the raft off the cliff in Idaho? It looks like a quarry in cloudy England!

Did they have self-inflating rafts in the 30s?

Sorry for my late response, I only saw this now.

Just like with Bond movies, one understandably needs to suspend disbelief with Indy movies, which have been consistently inaccurate with the technology, but that's okay, since these are fantasy movies and there have been worse "violations" elsewhere like the use of modern tanks in WWII movies. Spielberg made a better effort to at least acquire accurate looking replicas of German vehicles in Saving Private Ryan because the nature of that movie necessitated it IMO.

For me, worse infractions in the Indy films include the Flying Wing having huge, non-retractable wheels, the Russian and Japanese motorcycles used to double for German motorcycles and the modified modern Harley Davidson Softtail Springer in Crystal Skull (a dead giveaway is the use of fatter, modern tires), in which a period-correct Harley Knucklehead would have been more appropriate; however, there were important stunt considerations to justify the way they went.
superado is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On
Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 09:37 AM.