Monday, 27 February 2017

Yet More Movie Miniatures...

Regular readers of the blog will know I'm endlessly fascinated by the behind-the-scenes process on films, especially special effects work with miniatures and/or matte paintings.  Back in October 2014 I posted my first miniatures blog (which you can read here) and have subsequently written ones about the James Bond series, Derek Meddings and ILM (which can all be found on this link).

Miniatures are scale models used to represent things that aren't there, are too expensive or difficult to film in reality, or which can't be damaged (by fire, flood or explosion) in real life.  They've now largely been replaced by (often terrible) CGI but the old ways, the practical art, does seem to be making something of a comeback.

I thought it was time to post some more so here's another selection, hopefully highlighting films where it's not immediately obvious that you're looking at a miniature.

Warlords Of Atlantis (1978, directed by Kevin Connor)
visual effects supervised by John Richardson, monsters by Roger Dicken
John Brown (left) and John Richardson prep Roger Dicken's octopus (built both in full-size and miniature versions) with the miniature Texas Rose
Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom (1984, directed by Steven Spielberg)
visual effects supervised by Dennis Muren (see more Indy-related miniatures here)
Paul Huston works on the miniature mine set at ILM
Die Hard (1988, directed by John McTiernan)
visual effects supervised by Richard Edlund
The newly built Fox Plaza (the company headquarters of 20th Century Fox) in Century City stood in for the Nakatomi Plaza in real life.  Obviously keen not to have it destroyed, Boss Films created this large-scale miniature. 
Back To The Future II (1989, directed by Robert Zemeckis)
visual effects supervised by Ken Ralston
Steve Gawley works on the down-view of the Biff Tannen skyscraper car-park.  In order to get the height without being restricted by the roof of the studio, the miniature was built on its side.
Batman (1989, directed by Tim Burton)
visual effects supervised by Derek Meddings
Working on the miniature of Gotham city
Back To The Future III (1990, directed by Robert Zemeckis)
visual effects supervised by Ken Ralston
Two angles of the climactic train crash sequence, which was shot using a quarter-scale miniature 
Die Hard 2: Die Harder (1990, directed by Renny Harlin)
visual effects supervised by Michael J. McAlister
Working on the airport exterior
Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991, directed by James Cameron
visual effects supervised by Dennis Muren (ILM), Robert Skotak (4-Ward Productions), Gene Warren, Jr (Fantasy II Film Effects), Craig Barron (Matte World Digital)
Robert & Dennis Skotak of 4-Ward Productions work on an LA overpass miniature for the nuclear destruction sequence
True Lies (1994, directed by James Cameron)
miniatures supervised by Pat McClung (Digital Domain) and Mark Stetson (Stetson Visual Services, Inc.)
From the Harrier sequence, note the plywood skyline reflecting in the glass of the "office block" windows
Mission: Impossible (1996, directed by Brian DePalma)
visual effects supervised by John Knoll (ILM) and Richard Yurichich
The miniature Channel Tunnel set, with helicopter and Tom Cruise puppet
Men In Black (1997, directed by Barry Sonnenfeld)
visual effects supervised by Eric Brevig
ILM miniature effects Director Of Photography Pat Sweeney works on the Hudson River tunnel sequence.  His assistant is lifting roof panels to allow the motion-control camera access
Tomorrow Never Dies (1997, directed by Roger Spottiswoode)
visual effects supervised by John Richardson
Filming the HMS Devonshire miniature at Baja Studios, Mexico
Dog Soldiers (2002, directed by Neil Marshall)
miniature supervisor: Simon Bowles
About to explode the farmhouse
Skyfall (2012, directed by Sam Mendes)
visual effects supervised by Steve Begg
The miniature Silva chopper positioned to crash into the miniature Skyfall House.  Note the bullet-riddled Aston Martin

There will be more miniatures posts...


  1. Big fan of miniature effects. The Bond films have some of the best, and the newest Batman films seem to have brought them back into the mainstream again. I will take well constructed miniature work over CGI any day...

  2. I love this! i am working on my graduation film myself now and was looking for inspiration for my movie! This feels for me like i hit the jackpot! Thank you very much! And yes miniature work beats CGI any day, you can feel the love and effort in the work, and that is what i hope too create as wel. Again thank you!

    1. Thanks for your comment, Justin and good luck with the graduation film!

  3. Amazing work here, I was looking for this! I'm working on my graduation project for my film school, and i am going to use miniature work as wel. I was looking for some inspiration and this feels for me like i have hit the jackpot! Thank you very much for all this great information! I hope you will continue. And yes miniature beats CGI for sure, it has a lot more feeling into it and therefor feels just more real. Again thank you for this!