Flight of the Odyssey: Space Shuttle Creation
On Stage 7 at Celtic Studios, the art department, under the direction of supervising art director KEVIN ISHIOKA, built the interior of the space shuttle Odyssey set. The goal for the team was for the cockpit to resemble that of an actual spacecraft and for Kosinski and DP Miranda to achieve a natural look of weightlessness when shooting with Cruise and Riseborough inside of the space shuttle.
The most obvious question was, How could this be done on the practical set? To accomplish this, an opening was left in the top of the cylindrical set from which a 40-foot vertical cable could hang freely from a 70-foot horizontal truss that was connected to the ceiling of the stage that began 30 feet underneath. Its creator, stunt rigging coordinator DAVID HUGGHINS, who is part of the stunt team, dubbed this antigravity system the "XYZ flying rig." A similar rig was used in the magnet room for the pivotal scene with Jeremy Renner's character in Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol.
Four stunt performers, who doubled as cable operators, were in charge of the XYZ flying rig and the 1,500 feet of cable -- strapped to an electric motor with hydraulics -- that it required to run all of the lines. Operators controlled the up-down, left-right and the forward-back. Another operator was in command, giving specific instructions and safety checks. For safety and performance, the XYZ flying rig had to be exactly precise. The cast rehearsed in harnesses for weeks in advance and was QuickLinked with climbing industry hooks to the cable.
On the day of shooting, Kosinski advised Cruise and Riseborough to grab onto the walls as they dangled in weightlessness in the cockpit. To add an extra spin, the Odyssey cylindrical set was created so that it could rotate counterclockwise for an illusion of more movement.
Kosinski wanted to be as accurate as possible when re-creating a key scene in the space shuttle. Therefore, he called in astronaut RICK SEARFOSS to act as technical advisor. Searfoss, a space shuttle commander, consulted on all of the antigravity stunt moves, the look of the Odyssey cockpit and the script dialogue.
Commander Searfoss guided the art department after they laid out the control panels inside the Odyssey set, as well as on the switching of the graphics and video playback. He showed filmmakers and cast how and when each one of these control systems was going to be used for takeoff, pre-flight and landing. Searfoss: "Simulating weightlessness is an interesting challenge, both in the real world of training astronauts and when you are trying to tell a story on film. But with clever camera angles and the athletic ability of the actors, it is possible to make it look realistic. On top of that, add some real cockpit chatter and you are on your way."
Other sets built on stage at Celtic Studios included the interior of the Empire State Building gift shop and a New York City hotel room. Off-stage production was also shot at the local Homeland Security/911 Call Center, which doubled as Mission Control for the center at which Sally gave Vika her commands.
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