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Riding The Time Waves
Depicting the stunning impact of time waves was accomplished with a combination of aerial photography, CGI and good old-fashioned stunts.

Hyams envisioned it as "a visible, translucent ripple in the atmosphere, a 3-dimensional distortion the size of a tsunami. One view in the film encompasses 15 miles along the Lake Michigan shore and really gives a sense of the wave's height, a good 1500 to 2000 feet.”

"For the characters,” adds Burns, who appeared to be swept up in several waves, "it lifts us up and we're trapped in slow motion as the physical environment changes around us, then we're dropped into a whole new world as it passes on its way.”

To show this, says McGovern, "we needed to capture the actors moving at 10 to 12 times slower than real time. In one sequence Ed goes up, falls backwards against a railing and onto the floor. The typical way to do this would be to set up an array of cameras in a track, one every eight inches, and by shooting each of them in sequence we would make it a continuous event. Still images shot all the way around a character at very high speed will slow him down this much.”

The problem was, the amount of action Hyams wanted covered would require 168 cameras and they only had space for 60. "At 60, he wouldn't fall as fast. The only way to do it was to start the sequence with the actor falling, then pick up a computer generated image of him throughout the arc of the action and then go back to the actor for his reaction.”

Using a Lidar Scanner to scan and convert the actors into digitized images, McGovern employed CGI to simulate the work of 168 tracking cameras. "So Ed gets hoisted on a cable at the beginning and gets whacked at the end, and in between he's CGI.” Additionally, this process allowed Hyams to use an extra-wide-angle 14mm lens instead of the standard 28mm, which would not have been physically possible with a camera in such a shot.

Having worked out the logistics with Burns, McGovern's team went on to unleash time waves that captured multiple actors simultaneously.


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