The Arachnid Crane Shot


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"The very first Bug shot done by Phil Tippett and his Creature Effects department was the arrival of the Arachnid army on Planet P and the assault on the Whiskey Outpost.  The shot comprises of a low-shot within the Whiskey Outpost compound, and as the Troopers scramble to man the ramparts, the camera rises, following the Troopers up the gantry ramp, and rises high above the outpost to reveal the Arachnid army approaching in their thousands.

However, the shot was filmed on the first day on location in Wyoming on a particularly windy day.  Once the camera crane rose above the compound it was vulnerable to the location's moderate winds, and the camera swayed uncontrollably.

If you watch the scene, watch the near-camera objects, such as the compound and the Troopers etc, and you will see them appear to sway as the camera moves."




Phil Tippet, Creature Effects Supervisor


"The big boom shot when the Arachnid army first shows up on planet P was actually our very first shot on Starship Troopers, and, I thought it was the beginning of the end, you know, if every shot is like this then we are absolutely doomed because it was a big boom-up shot and once the camera boom got up there the camera was just all over the place.

The perspective through the lens made the background look like it was locked-off, but it made the foreground look like these guys were on a boat going up and down.  It took weeks of just matching everything in just to make sure that we were able to stabilize the background so we could put the bugs in."



Jost Vacano, Director of Photography


"We had to do this shot, and it was not stable.  I said ok shoot it and lets see - Phil Tippet has to handle it somehow.  The problem was it was always very windy there, and with a very extended crane arm, if there is some wind, the camera is not going to be stable: the whole crane starts shaking a little bit. 

All this shaking was sort of strictly forbidden because it created terrible problems to shake all of the thousands of bugs in exactly the same way.  Frame by frame by frame he has to correct whatever the camera is doing, so we had markers in the landscape, which were taken out later, of course, that were able to follow even these little camera movements."




Production animation for the crane shot in production, showing the crane rise over the ramparts and revealing the advancing Arachnid army from the distance.


The Troopers wait within the compound, ready for the run onto the ramparts.


The Troopers rush into possition on the raised walkway as the crane rises from the compound deck.


The camera reaches its final position as the crane extends high above the compound and the Troopers on the foreground walkway.  When viewed in motion, the compound wall and Troopers clearly appear to sway against the static background.  


Here is the finished shot, complete with the digital Arachnid army


Digital compositors work frame-by-frame to ensure that the digital Arachnid army 'moves' consistantly with the camera.


Extras were used as markers in the battlefield, so that the movements of the camera could be plotted as it swayed in the wind, and the digital arachnids could be moved in accordance to the camera movements, so both seemed to move at the same time, and thus the movement would not be visable.





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