‘BATTLESHIP’ from game-to-film

On April 12  2012, the battle for Earth begins at sea. Peter  Berg directs and produces Battleship, an epic-scale action-adventure that unfolds across the seas, in the skies and over land as our planet fights for survival against a superior force.

After the blockbuster success of the toys-to-films Transformers and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Hasbro reviewed the catalogue and focused on “Battleship” as its first game-to-film.  Still, the company knew it wouldn’t move forward until a crucial dilemma was resolved: how to logically transfigure a beloved property into a cohesive and entertaining motion picture.

It was crucial to the producers that when audiences see this epic, they witness an incredible spectacle. Bennet  Schneir,  the leader in leisure time entertainment services and products in Hasbro Inc. says: “They’re going to see airplanes and ships and aliens and shredders and thugs.  They’re going to see the game of ‘Battleship’ that they all grew up on come to life in front of them.  And at the core of it, they’re going to see a story about a group of human beings who are up against impossible odds.”

The minds at Industrial Light & Magic (ILM)—under the supervision of VFX—were responsible for creating those odds.  “We took great pains to construct the aliens so that they were similar to us, certainly they’re going to look very different, but the idea was that we live in parallel worlds, something astronomers call a ‘Goldilocks planet.’  They use and need the same resources, so they can exist in the same environment that we do.  From the onset, Director Peter Berg was very intent upon identifying certain aliens as having distinct personalities from one another so that they will be identifiable to the audience.”

Producer Scott Stuber admits that he was blown away by the intimidating look of the humanoid aliens, as well as their massive ships and intergalactic weaponry.  He says: “ILM is the first to come to the table with a new idea.  Having worked with them over the years, it’s still fun to see how much they continue to up their game, and the things that they continue to bring to life on film are extraordinary.”

SFX supervisor also worked in concert with his VFX counterparts at ILM for those sequences that featured another unique device: the shredder.  “We introduce an entire alien naval fleet in the movie, which I’ve never seen before,” states Berg.  “We had some of the best minds at ILM designing these ships and building 3D models on computers, figuring out what kind of fighting systems they would have.  The naval combat between these alien ships and our Aegis-class destroyers is breathtaking.  We’ve also created some cool weaponry that the aliens use.  One is called a shredder, which has an intelligence system and is programmed to destroy whatever is in its path. It’s about nine feet in diameter, a sphere that shreds whatever is in its path.  It’s huge and has all kinds of gears and things that cut through metal and cement, anything actually.”

“One of the first things we talked about was the idea of a shredder.  Imagine a circular array of chainsaws, a huge ball the height of a normal room with a whirling dervish motion that could burrow down to the center of the Earth just as easily as it could plow through an 18-wheeler.”

The shredder appears in several action-packed moments throughout the film.  However, another key sequence featuring the shredder required to cut a bus in half.  The script called for the device to chew its way across a highway, devouring a light pole and cars before slicing a bus in half.  Naturally, all of this was shot in Baton Rouge, where other  team created a 400-foot green screen highway in a huge empty lot across from the Celtic-Raleigh stages.

They discusses the assorted set pieces created for the dynamic scene: “One bus was towed on what we call a ratchet, a high-compression, air-powered cable that allowed us to move the heavy vehicle up to 15-20 miles an hour.  When the shredder hits it, we used metal shape charges below 3/8-inch steel plates that held it together.  When those steel plates blew apart, the bus was pulled apart and torn in half.  We added an additional brake and steering system that was self-contained.  The stunt guy ‘driving’ the bus up front had to live through all these hellacious explosions, but not a fireball.”
“In this sequence, the shredder flies from one of the alien ships out on the water off the coast, zeroing in on a freeway,”

One of ILM’s design ideas involved the look and movement of aliens’ subterranean vessels, known as Stingers.  They took their cue from Berg, who states: “The initial idea for the alien ships was taken from the idea of a water bug.  The ships themselves have this movement and orientation where their backs are up and their heads are down, like they’re charging, and then they hover and sit on top of the water like bugs.  I loved the idea of having that unexpected movement in the water as a counterpoint to the way that we all understand how ships sit and move through the water.”

Pete said, ‘What if these ships could all of a sudden leap into the air and land in the water somewhere else?’ which was a very intriguing idea.  It’s science fiction, but grounded in reality.”

The water interaction in this movie is very intense.  The team dealt with many ocean simulations and studies of water surface.  Peter Berg  is specific about what kind of swells he wants to see, the speed that he wants these ships to move at.  He has a lot of boating experience, so he knows what things look like when they’re out in the ocean.  When you put a big ship out, it displaces the water when crashing through waves.
For this research on water displacement, the team says “shot a lot of footage of how these massive ships travel through stormy seas.  It’s amazing how even these big, heavy ships rock and move.  Of course, that’s something you would feel when you’re on a real ship.”

BATTLESHIP is released and distributed by United International Pictures through Solar Entertainment . Corp.

Showing on April 12, 2012. Nationwide.

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