About The Production
Trank's vision for CHRONICLE was meticulouslyâ€¦chronicled prior to the start of
production. Trank created previsualizations for every visual effect and camera
angle, and wrote a detailed "Director's Statement" outlining his plans, themes,
and methodology. Given the challenging nature of seamlessly marrying live
action, stunts, visual effects and special effects, the pre-viz was a valuable
guide for Trank's department heads.
Trank's mandate was to always keep it real. "What's different about this show is
that it's really a personal story; we get to know the kids especially well."
says Robert Habros, one of the film's visual effects supervisors. "We want the
audience to be living in Andrew's experience and not thinking about how the kids
are flying. The visual effects work had to disappear within the story,
characters and emotions."
The film's flying sequences were extremely challenging and came to life through
not only visual effects wizardry, but through the magic of innovative rigs
designed by Simon Hansen, a noted visual effects supervisor who in the past
worked closely with acclaimed filmmaker Neill Blomkamp. Hansen invented
techniques and rigs that created, says Trank, "flying like you've really never
seen in a movie before. It is really the most realistic flying I've ever seen."
Hansen designed a circular rig that would simulate the freedom of skydiving and
allow for all sorts of interactive lighting and elaborate flying moves, like
corkscrews and somersaults. The filmmakers wanted the characters to look like
they were having the time of their lives flying.
The actors underwent extensive training to prepare them for the rig. "From the
very beginning Josh wanted to do as much as possible in camera, live, and with
the actors doing their own stunts," says executive producer James Dodson. "We
had to effortlessly combine these fantastic live-action effects, which are
actually happening, with additional enhancements that Simon created digitally. I
think that some of the shots we see in this movie have never been experienced,
thanks to that invisible integration."
The meticulous preparation, innovative flying rigs and intricate camerawork were
critical for the film's epic third act - a super-powered battle above the
streets (and Space Needle) of Seattle. The sequence features not only flight,
but cars rocketing into the air, a bus smashing into the side of a building, and
a city under siege. Notably, Andrew's ever-present camera, now destroyed, has
been replaced by a plethora of recording devices capturing the battle, including
telephone cameras, security cameras, automated bank teller cameras, and police
It's a high-intensity climax, leading to an emotional resolution. But what about
the beginning - where did these powers come from? Trank and Landis keep it
fairly mysterious, but production designer Stephen Altman enjoyed creating the
location where it all happens - a craggy hole in the ground, in which rests a
chamber containing a massive crystalline rock structure that emits wispy clouds
Altman confesses that the creation of this unknown "matter" was a highlight for
him. "It's unlike anything I've designed before and I hope like nothing anyone
else has seen. Josh [Trank]'s vision of the matter was that it was not of this
earth. We don't know if it's animal, vegetable, or mineral. Perhaps it's a
combination of all three. To design the structure, we referenced geology,
biology, and organic and inorganic matter."
That set and what happens afterward will raise numerous questions for audiences
- and that is exactly what the filmmakers wanted. Says Max Landis: "Josh and I
know what happened in that cave. But in the movie it's never meant to be
In addition to the groundbreaking visual effects, rigs, and stunt work,
CHRONICLE features some impressive special effects, including using compressed
gas to flip two 1,000-pound vehicles thirty feet into the air, and then have
them land and be destroyed. Another scene that many will assume to be CGI but
was actually captured in-camera depicts Andrew gently raising his arm and
telekinetically crushing a car, which implodes and collapses within itself. The
car imploded on cue, thanks to 20,000 pounds of hydraulic pumps sucking in on
actual metal and creating an unforgettable twisting, wrenching metallic sound.
Squashing cars just by thinking about it. Flying. Wielding enough strength to
level a city. Who wouldn't want to obtain these kinds of powers? Who wouldn't
want to do the impossible? What would you do, asks CHRONICLE, if you were
Andrew, Matt or Steve?
What are you capable of?
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