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ARMAGEDDON

About The Production
Principal photography commenced on August 27, 1997, in Kadoka, South Dakota, where the vast terrain resembled the surface of the asteroid

Principal photography commenced on August 27, 1997, in Kadoka, South Dakota, where the vast terrain resembled the surface of the asteroid. But before cameras began rolling in the Badlands, Michael Bay and his crew had already shot thousands of feet of film in documenting sequences in New York, Texas and Washington, D.C., as well as completing some of the most spectacular segments of second unit photography at Cape Canaveral.

Responsible for the domain of cinematography was director of photography John Schwartzman. Schwartzman, who has known Bay for many years, began shooting commercials and music videos with the director after graduating from college. When Bay was tapped to shoot his second Bruckheimer hit, "The Rock," Schwartzman had already created a name for himself in the commercial world, and was moving from smaller independent films into studio­sponsored projects. He was delighted to come onboard when Bay invited him to join them on Alcatraz. His exemplary work on "The Rock" catapulted Schwartzman into the highest echelon of cinematographers.

The crew began second unit on April 3 at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, where they shot the first of two shuttle launches. This first launch of the Columbia was done during the day, as a test of sorts, to determine camera angles, film speed and other variables. The second, all­important launch of the Atlantis took place on a warm, humid evening in mid­May. "Night launches are only done about every 18 months or so," says director of photography John Schwartzman. "We knew if we didn't get it right, there was no second chance. Watching the launch and actually being able to film it was one of the most exciting things I've experienced in my life."

Fifteen cameras were used to record the event, 12 of which were placed inside the three­mile safety zone of the launch pad. Many of NASA's cameras were replaced with the production's Panavisions. Bay, Schwartzman, gaffer Andy Ryan and key grip Les Tomita had to plan and accommodate tor a drastic change in light levels during the blastoff, not to mention the safety of expensive camera equipment. The camera and grip departments also had to build special housings for the cameras, weighing them down so that the concussion from the blast would not send the cameras into outer space as well. Special filters were used to protect each camera lens from the hydrochloric exhaust left in the shuttle's wake.

The night launch footage was then transferred to the art department and visual effects crew, whose jobs were to transform NASA's current technology into futuristic visions of the shuttles. They augmented the footage with additional booster rockets in order to give the shuttles the power necessary to take advantage of the moon's gravitational pull and slingshot around the moon, enabling them to land on the asteroid.

These and many other complex visual effects are being created by 13 different effects houses at work on the movie. In charge of the overall effort is Pat McClung, a veteran of Digital Domain and ILM, who was brought to the project by producer Gale Anne Hurd after their longtime association on several James Cameron­helmed projects. McClung (who put together an in­house effects team referred to as Vfx) and Richard Hoover at Disney-owned Dream Quest split the duties of designing the effects sequences.

"Anything that had a lot of 3­D imaging would go to DQ because they have developed a huge 3­D<

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