A Western VFX guy in China

Tai Hang Shan Shang

Here is a entry of the most anticipated project in 2007 named ‘Tai Hang Shan Shang’ which marked the 60th anniversary of the Anti-Japanese War (WII) and of China’s
victory against the intruders. The first big scale project i have done with the Chinese army, including real tanks, real airplanes, a vast amount of real foot soldiers
up to 10.000 !! and many many more crazy things i have experienced with the armie’s own well reputated film studio named ‘August First’, which was highly 
recommended to shoot ‘Saving Private Ryan’ back in those days because of their ultra-realistic looking battle scenes and explosions (Yeah, i know that and had the the ‘VERY’ exciting opportunity to participate in many dangerous pyro-setups with a ‘demolition unit’ which was just doing ‘film-explosions’ during peace time, honestly not really something for safety concernd Western film-crews, the shelters were too close, the amount of TNT too much and so on…one assistant caught fire and i almost got hit from flying debris, i just jumped to the right side !!)
Despite a regulary 15 hour day and freezing cold nights a very interesting experience to see real hangar explosions (30 meter high fire balls), mass of burning soldiers flying elevated by land-mines and horses with tied up legs rolling down mudy slides, a whole village mined and blown up and finally a bumpy ride in an ancient Russian helicopter for aerial shots experiencing downwinds (lee rotor) close to a cliff’s edge…so nothing really concerned about if you are planning to shoot in China, improvisation is everything and don’t be afraid of not having a safety belt if you get too close to the waterfalls’s edge, just don’t fall in, otherwise you get grinded in seconds at the bottom, but we’ve warned you so don’t complain, understand ??
Just to make a long story short: Here are some stills from comps (night explosions) i have done in Inferno, real plates mixed with indoor blue-screen footage, framing and perspective matched with a simple vision mixer and the video assist. Challenges: The bluescreen footage was completely crap, i had to partially manually roto people, a lot of noise(grain) but thanks to the Master and Modular Keyer doable, but PITA anyway !! Again should have listen to us what kind of stock to use and at least try to stay in focus !! I’ve supervised the high-speed miniature shooting done in 3 passes with a Pegasus crane and stitched together in the post later. Since the runway was too short we used “forced perspective” and models ranging from 6:1 to 10:1 to further ‘virtually’ increase the distance.
Note: If your computer is too slow to play the slideshow smoothly back or
you want to see and download pictures by yourself, please click this link.

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