MEET THE DEEDLES
The Special Effects
"To create the Ranger Village, I started by looking for a place beautiful enough and secluded enough to warrant building it," explains Storer
"To create the Ranger Village, I started by looking for a
place beautiful enough and secluded enough to warrant building
it," explains Storer. "A few years ago I had been working
on a film near Heber City and had gone snowmobiling with the director
during lunch. I had remembered this place near the Snake Creek
power station and fortunately I was able to find it again six
years later and in a different season.
"The Ranger Village has a collage of a lot of different architectural
styles. There is a bit of what you would see in Yellowstone,
and then some Adirondack influences which I think are more romantic
and fun because they give the structures shape. Since we couldn't
go for enormous scale in the buildings, we filled in with more
details and character.
"What seemed to be one of the more daunting challenges of
the film turned out to be one of its bigger successes," says
Storer, referring to the need to create an Old Faithful geyser,
also from scratch.
Discussing the possibilities with director Steve Boyum, special
effects supervisor Ray Bivins found himself in search of a jet
engine and someone who would let the production use it. "We
asked Steve Boyum how high he wanted the geyser to shoot and his
response was 'Higher than you can get it,'" recalls Bivins.
"A jet engine is about the only thing small enough to go
underground in the space that we had, and still have the force
to propel water and steam to about 135 feet."
The real Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone National Park usually
erupts to a height of between 130 to 140 feet, though spouts from
180 to 190 feet have been seen in its 125 years of recorded observation.
Fortunately, jet propulsion scientists at Utah State University's
jet propulsion lab in Logan, Utah were willing to rise to the
occasion and assist the filmmakers in the gushing, cinematic experiment.
"You've got 1,200 degrees coming out of the engine,"
notes Ray Bivins. "We had to find the exact flow of water
to feed into the jet because we didn't just want an enormous fountain
... we wanted a spout of steam mixed with water, similar to the
look of a real geyser. But if we put in too much water, it started
to run back down the feed tubes because it cooled the engine too
fast ... and too small an amount simply evaporated in the engine."
"We were using Utah State University's Vietnam-era jet ranger
helicopter engine," Stephen Storer explains. "We dug
an enormous hole underground and mounted the engine, set on its
side, shoring it up so that the vibration of the jet wouldn't
damage the superstructure of its new wooden casing. It is very
powerful, creating 4,000 pounds per square inch of thrust coming
out of an 18 inch tube. Another twist was that the water had
to come in horizontally and turn 90 degrees to come out in a vertical
spout. Since we were shooting the sequence at a location far
away from any natural or municipal water source, we needed to
have 4,500 gallons of water pumped in from numerous water trucks
for every 20 to 30 second take we did."
The "Old Faithful" scenes for the Ranger graduation
and Billionth Birthday celebration were shot in the breathtaking
plain of Guardsman's Pass, which is just south of Park City and
at an altitude of 9,500 feet. Ray Bivins crew also planted explosive
charges leading up to the geyser to effect the underground charges
that apparently stop Old Faithful from erupting only moments before
the celebration is set to begin.
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