Tuesday, November 25, 2008

You Know You Like 'Splodey Stuff.

Let's start the day with a link to some cool pictures. Filming in Brooklyn has some nice shots from a contributor of a car exploding for the TV show, Life on Mars. Let me tell you a couple of things about what you're looking at in the pics.

First of all, marvel at the trust the City of NY puts in our Special Effects people. That isn't some backlot they're working on. It's a relatively narrow street with real live buildings and real live people living there...and one big-ass explosion. When you want to do something like this, you need a permit from the FDNY Explosives Unit. They'll come do a site survey with the Location Manager and the Special Effects Coordinator. The Effects guy has to have the proper Pyrotechnics License and the Location Manager needs to get letters signed from all the adjascent property owners stating that they don't have any objections to the proposed 'splodey activity. It helps that there really aren't that many Special Effects Coordinators and they tend to be very well known to the folks in the Explosives Unit (i.e. FDNY knows that the guy exploding shit in the street knows what he's doing).

You can't see them, but I garauntee you there is a fire truck and an ambulance on standby somewhere really close to the set.

A couple of other things. In the lower left part of the frame, there's a 6' X 6' silk with a light shining though it. This is a way of difusing the light. Direct light can be very harsh and nobody wants that. Also, the "black screen" FIB refers to is a 12' X 12' griflon. This is a sort of plasticized tarp that is black on one side and white on the other. In the shot, the white side is facing the action and there's a light or two being bounced off of it. Once again, this is a way to light a shot with indirect lighting to soften it. Go ahead, aim a light at one of your walls and you'll see what that's all about.

And the doorway you see just to the right of the griflon is the building they use to stand in as their precinct on the show (you can see the fake, engraved precinct sign over the doorway in most of the shots). You'll also note the green lights on the sides of the entrance. Green lights make any door into a precinct entrance. And not that I'd take anyone to task on it, but if it's a precinct house, it should be flying both the U.S. flag and the City of NY flag. Just sayin'.


Anonymous said...


Oddly reminds me of the time that I almost ran over Dennis Franz while driving my car as an extra for NYPD Blue. That was here in L.A., though. No explosions that I know of.

Nathan said...

Yeah, NYPD Blue was strictly an L.A. show except that they'd come to NY once a year and shoot a week or so of Exteriors. I always wondered how they did that. Episodic shows are notorious for writing episodes right up to the last minute, so how did they know what scenes to shoot for an episode that probably wasn't written yet.

Anonymous said...

I think that they just shot new establishing shots plus maybe a few shots for episodes early in the season.

We were on New York Street on the Fox lot. Try going round that thing over and over again as if you're "a New Yorker" (in the words of the PA) and not run over someone who steps in front of your car. I'm not so sure it's a good idea to trust the reflexes of an extra who's never worked on the show before. Franz was in pure Sipowicz mode and glared at me, so I glared right back at him, though inside I was thinking, "Wow, that could have been bad news."

Nathan said...


A friend of mine was their location manager when they came to town. They shot actual scenes with dialog here including some chases and stuff.

Anonymous said...

Nathan, that just means the show runners were...PSYCHIC!