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A SOUND OF THUNDER

Time Travel
Lacking a functional time machine of their own, the Sound of Thunder filmmakers relied on 21st-century ingenuity to recreate Chicago as a plausibly modern 2055 city and again in various stages of de-evolution leading step by step into the primordial swampland it once was.

Production centered in Prague and surrounding areas in the Czech Republic, utilizing a number of outdoor and indoor locales as well as the city's famed Barrandov Studios.

Elements of production design combined with both practical and computer effects were used to set the scenes. It was Hyams' intention to present a plausible reality for his future cityscape, rather than "people gliding around on conveyor belts under domed skies. If you look back the same number of years, to the early 1950s, an enormous amount of changes are evident in the cars and building designs, and yet, there are still some of those cars and buildings from the 1950s around today. It's not a complete renovation from one period to another but more a series of newer elements adding to and blending with the existing structure.”

Visual effects supervisor Tim McGovern, who shared a 1991 Special Achievement Oscar for his work on Total Recall, notes that "the city background began with a 3-D grid database of downtown Chicago that was designed for an entirely different purpose – to monitor the installation of satellite dishes on rooftops so they don't block each other. Taking that as a starting point, we decided which buildings to update and how. By adding and altering we have a brand new layout of the city.”

Also working closely with Hyams was production designer Richard Holland, who previously collaborated with the director on the 1999 action thriller End of Days and more recently worked on the hit Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London. Together they created a number of sets, from the high-gloss Time Safari offices to the pulsing heart of the portal below; from a city breaking apart at the seams to a voracious prehistoric jungle.

It's a Jungle Out There –

Holland's biggest challenge was planting a jungle in Central Europe's decidedly non-tropical climate – a task of Amazonian proportions that required masses of imported greenery from Italy, Belgium and the UK as well as from the Czech Republic's legendary fairy-tale forests, and construction of an enormous greenhouse months prior to principal photography. The production cleared out a 1930s-era ice skating rink on an island in Prague's Vltava River and stocked it with 50-foot trees, 5,000 individual plants and several tons of soil spread over Holland's intentionally uneven floor design. With the help of a watering system and lamps, the greenery soon thrived in its own humid ecosystem complete with birds, insects and a tar pit. Crew members needed thigh-high rubber boots to get through it.

Meanwhile, a hangar in Prague's Letnany Airport became a temporary home for 300 giant, temperature-sensitive ferns, to keep them verdant until shooting commenced.

Holland extensively researched the period to incorporate as much authentic vegetation as possible. His collection includes varieties of bamboo, oak, willow, elm, tall pine, magnolia, ferns and a specimen commonly (and appropriately) known as lizard plant. "Flowering plants hadn't fully developed at that point,” he says. "They were still at the early stages of evolution.” Likewise, there was no grass in the Cretaceous era and colors were largely muted except for the few blooming plants. "Amazingly,” he adds, "several Cretaceous-era plants still exist today, such a ferns and palms. I have palm trees in my yard in L.A. I see them now in a different light, knowing that their ancestors were around millions of years ago.”

Drawings of an extinct carnivorous plant intrigued director Hyams so the greens crew created a facsimile using real plants and hand-crafted its toxic red bulbs f

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