The book fair was in town this weekend, so Jack and I went to peruse. I saw an amazing children's book and had to have it. The art inside it was spectacular, and the author was there as we were in the author's tent. Even better, I got it autographed and a free poster with the dragon on it. Signed, as well. The author, Stephen Parlato, was very nice, and signed with wonderful drawings on both. You can view this incredible art on his website, which I linked to in the previous sentence.
After that, we wandered downtown to find the set of Die Hard 4. Once again, Baltimore is masquerading as Washington, DC, and a friend of mine who is working on it said that they were doing some scenes that involved stunts over the weekend.
After walking for about twenty minutes, we found the set, blocked off and guarded by several P.A.s and police. After being told by both that the area was closed, I asked one of the P.A.s to find another Wire friend of mine who was working on the show. He succeeded, and we were let in for a front row view of the action. It was good to see The Wire people again, several of whom were there. As they set up the shot, we gossiped and bantered with the other crewmembers. A crewmember from New Zealand took my picture because he said I looked exactly like a friend's wife, and he intended to take it back and show her. They all reside in Los Angeles now.
Below is another camera crew across the street from the one that I stood behind. A stunt driver in the foreground waits in the car for his cue.
The stunt that was being prepared was a helicopter/car/SFX shot. We'd arrived just at the right time, to watch the rehearsals for it and the actual shot. Several car stunt drivers, and as my coworker informed me, a helicopter "precision pilot" rehearsed the scene twice.
As another helicopter filmed from above, three ground cameras positioned at different angles shot the scene as the stunt helicopter did an incredible tight bank. On the ground, four cars did their stunts. The first picture is where the helicopter hovered to wait for his cue. As usual with things like this, the pictures don't do it justice. You can click on each photo to see a bigger version.
The helicopter pilot does an incredible turn in a tight space. Amazing!
When the actual shot was ready to film, they passed out safety glasses and ear plugs to those who wanted them. I took a pair of ear plugs, not for the helicopters, but for the exploding charges emulating gunfire from the helicopter. As they readied, the New Zealander told me to hit the ground and flatten myself if anything went wrong. I looked at his face for humor, and he wasn't kidding.
As the crew films, two cars screech to a stop as the explosions detonate in rapid sequence. Loud, and awesome. Out of the shot, the helicopter does the same move pictured above.
The police car is driven by Bruce Willis's character, John McClane. For the rest of the pictures, you can view them on my Flickr account. There are a couple more, I think.
Everything went off perfectly, air, ground, and SFX all nailed the choreography. The background way down the road will be digitally replaced to be Washington, DC.
The first Die Hard, filmed in Los Angeles, took place in a building where I used to work. Fox Plaza, which became a character in the film itself, stood in for Nakatomi Plaza. I posted about working there here. If you haven't seen the first one, rent it. It's one of the top tier intelligent action films out there. For you Snape fans, Alan Rickman is a fantastic bad guy in this. And, they use Beethoven's Fifth as the soundtrack, to boot.