Here’s our first real close-up of Dennis in his cage, transforming even more into a cockatoo. More on that later.
During this shot I bumped the camera a few times, so I turned that bug into a feature by making Rodman mess with the camera lens as if it were the water bottle in a hamster cage. A subtle sound effect for each bump really sold the effect.
Amanda tries to squeeze between the cage and the bunker wall, which was less than three feet at 1:6 scale. The creature is suddenly a cockatoo, grappling at Amanda and even grabbing one of her roller skates for a curious tasting. Having owned a cockatoo decades ago, I do remember that they use their tongues to explore almost everything they can reach.
The skull is part of a complete sulfur-crested cockatoo skeleton I purchased from Skulls Unlimited International for $320. They supply skeletons to museums and other collectors, from animals that have died of natural causes.
I didn’t know this bird of course, but I assume it was a good bird and I named it Dennis. I did splatter most of its bones with neon paint to cover the cage floor. And I’m sure he didn’t mind at all.
That bloody skeleton you see was featured back in Act 3.
Here’s the moment Amanda asserts power over Kim, Vonky and Dennis — literally by killing the power in the Bunker of Evil on her way out.
The live Asteroids screen is tracked and composited into place via a greenscreen card tacked onto the arcade cabinet. And of course we get a nice view of one of Kim’s propaganda posters to close all the loops.
This was shot months before the previous scenes because it takes place on the other end of the same, recycled bunker set box.
And finally, Amanda skates through the same airlock she came in. As the door drifts open, we see a layer of vapor flowing into a pile of dry ice inside the vault, with an assist from a wad of paper towel.
This scene was shot live with my iPhone 11 Pro, and then I simply played the video in reverse and slowed it down for effect. Note the lighting which I did by aiming my GigBar Move DJ lights through the bunker’s ceiling grid, as in previous shots. The scallop-shaped stain on the wall to the right of the airlock was actually caused by the dry ice. And those faintly-glowing plants are actually neon aquarium decorations that are reactive to UV light. Trippy, eh?
I think this was actually the latest night shot I did. Checking the timestamp it was 3:50 AM. But I did typically stay up later while editing.
This opening MOCO shot took an enormous amount of setup. This is the first time we see the enlarged Bunker of Evil.
First, the walls are covered in printed paper panels to look like concrete.
My son 3D-printed that airlock door for me. We assembled it together and I painted it with layers of rusty, iron tones. Then I drilled a hole in the top in order to mount my small UV light inside it, shining down into the vault.
That silver locker cabinet is yet another nicely made 1:6 scale prop I found from China. If you look closely, there are several bags of desiccant and miniature junk food in the shelves on the left side. I simply gathered all the desiccant packs shipped with various props, and decided that some of the POSERS would ignore the “DO NOT EAT” warnings printed on them. The junk food chip bags were made by SummerMiniShop on Etsy.
In the foreground is a nice little wooden Tommy Bahama box that looks like a munitions crate. You can barely see a 1:6 scale gattling gun and ammunition box sitting over to the left, in the shadows. That’ll get used in a later scene.
That lava lamp is one I’ve had for a while, from Sharper Image. The challenge there was whether to composite it flowing in real time, or just let it boil with the animation. I chose the latter, to suggest that there is something super sinister about Kim Jong-un’s operation here. Hence the Evil in the Bunk of Evil.
Next there are four set pieces that are made from actual concrete. The two pyramidic planters on the right wall, a large round tray (placed upside-down, and the squarish pedestal on which my TerraMaster data center sits. And yes, I was excited to find something so perfectly sized.
Atop the supercomputer is its cooling tower, which I made from a peanut can and used to fill with dry ice for the steam effects.
Just out of frame to the left is my 1:6 scale Asteroids RepliCade made by New Wave Toys. That thing is amazing! It actually plays the game with the real graphics and sounds, and keeps high scores. The rug under it is UV-reactive, also made by the same company.
To the left, as we follow Amanda skating through the steam, there are a couple more props: Namely my Star Trek Captain’s Chair (which Dennis is sitting it at first. And a smaller round concrete platform. I wasn’t sure I wanted to use that chair in later scenes, but I think that’s a forgivable mistake since we don’t really see much of it in this shot.
All the power cables for these props are run through a small hole near the floor in the back wall.
This is the second scene taking place in the now-expanded Bunker of Evil. Amanda enters though an airlock door and skates past some rather exotic equipment on her way to deliver the Mona Lisa to Kim Jong-un, who is in party mode with Vonky Trump. Amanda is suddenly intercepted by Ambassador Rodman who grapples at her from inside his cage.
The bunker set is 2x2x4 feet in size. The walls are removable and symmetrical so it was pretty easy to flip it around to give the illusion of an 8-foot long set. That’s 48 feet long at 1:6 scale. This set also has an open grid ceiling, which is supported by a special reconfigurable frame I built in place.
The special effects were done with 10 pounds of dry ice over two days, both inside the airlock and atop the supercomputer’s cooling tower. Dry ice is rather difficult to work with as you might imagine. It boils best when dropped in hot water, but it doesn’t last long. And then you have to dump all that water every few frames so it doesn’t flood your set. But the effect worked, as Amanda skated fearlessly through the blasts of steam and who knows how many industrial toxins.
The biggest problem was capturing the blinking lights on my TerraMaster D5 data center, a RAID array. I used its startup sequence for the best LED activity. But it uses a Thunderbolt 3 cable which maxes at 3 feet. So I had to move my main iMac Pro behind the bunker set, then run the cable through an access hole just to get the blinky lights I needed. And that was super frustrating because it meant I had to control Dragonframe from my iPad using a Remote Desktop app. Between that and the dry ice, this scene nearly snuffed out my will to live.
This scene was my homage to the WOPR supercomputer scene in WarGames.