The Perfect Storm

THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

NEW MEDIA IV: DIGITAL FILMMAKER SPECIAL ISSUE
JUNE 23, 2000

Drenching the cameras with 3,000 gallons of water at a time was all in a day’s work during filming of “The Perfect Storm.” How to protect the equipment and still get the shots became an overriding issue for Oscar-winning cinematographer John Seale (“The English Patient”). Encasing the equipment in typical hard underwater housing was out of the question because the combined weight of the casings and the camera would have been beyond the capacity of the two Super Techno cranes. The cranes were being used for their ability to hydraulically snorkel out a distance of 30 to 40 feet. Seale turned to underwater cameraman Pete Romano, owner of HydroFlex, who started designing his own aquatic equipment after becoming dissatisfied with what existed on the market. Romano ultimately custom designed soft waterproof bags specifically for the project.

“Each bag was fitted with two air blasters to keep rain and water off the optical lens,” says Seale, whose recent credits include “The Talented Mr. Ripley” and the upcoming “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” “The bags were purged with dry air that went through a compressor and a couple of filters to remove the moisture. The air pressure in the bag was slightly greater than the ambient pressure, which helped keep out water in the event of any leaks. We didn’t lose a single camera and, for a film like this, that’s incredible.”

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Second assistant camera and documentarian Heather Scobie was given the monumental task of recording lighting positions, camera movement and general camera continuity notes for each sequence in the film. "This diagram was of scene 157," Scobie offers, "which was during the height of the storm. George [Clooney] must climb out onto the ship's outrigger to cut loose the sea anchor, which is flying around in the wind and ripping apart the boat. Overall on Stage 16, John [Seale] created a general soft wash with 89 10K Sky pans through an 80' x 60' silent frost diffusion and highlighted specific areas with 20K Fresnels from the perms [shown on the inset diagram]. For this particular shot, the #3 storm drop was placed on the back wall [from bottom along right hand side of page over the bluescreen], and the Image 80s were not used. John also had a fiber-optic acetylene torch rigged up for George to carry with him, and used the MR-16 at the end of the outrigger to create some interactive for that effect."
Second assistant camera and documentarian Heather Scobie was given the monumental task of recording lighting positions, camera movement and general camera continuity notes for each sequence in the film. "This diagram was of scene 157," Scobie offers, "which was during the height of the storm. George [Clooney] must climb out onto the ship's outrigger to cut loose the sea anchor, which is flying around in the wind and ripping apart the boat. Overall on Stage 16, John [Seale] created a general soft wash with 89 10K Sky pans through an 80' x 60' silent frost diffusion and highlighted specific areas with 20K Fresnels from the perms [shown on the inset diagram]. For this particular shot, the #3 storm drop was placed on the back wall [from bottom along right hand side of page over the bluescreen], and the Image 80s were not used. John also had a fiber-optic acetylene torch rigged up for George to carry with him, and used the MR-16 at the end of the outrigger to create some interactive for that effect."