In the Heart of the Sea – Cinefex 144 Extract

by Graham Edwards

In the Heart of the Sea - Cinefex 144 Extract

It’s time for the third extract from our brand new issue, Cinefex 144. This time the article we’re previewing is Jody Duncan’s High Seas Drifter, a detailed look behind the scenes of Ron Howard’s In the Heart of the Sea, which is based on the true historical events which inspired the classic novel Moby Dick.

Visual effects were supervised by Jody Johnson and delivered by Double Negative, Rodeo FX and Scanline, while special effects supervisor Mark Holt delivered the movie’s full-scale 19th century whaling ship into one mother of a storm.

In this exclusive extract, Johnson reveals the secrets behind the stand-in whales used during production to help with the actors’ performances:

Both the interior tank and open sea shoots employed bucks that stood in for the whales to guide the actors’ eyelines. “We used jet-skis with prosthetic whale heads attached to the front to give everyone, including the camera crew, a sense of where the whale was,” said Johnson. “They gave the actors something to focus on and to point their harpoons at.”

The jet-ski stand-ins had to be replaced with a more sophisticated prosthetic when the crew moved to the Canary Islands. “Our marine consultants pointed out that the jet-ski with the whale head stuck to it would sink once we were in open waters. So we had prop builders create a buoyant whale rib with a head on it, and we swept that around the actors in the boats to give them something to look at and aim at. It was very difficult to orient oneself when we were at sea, because there were few points of reference and everything was moving all the time. The bucks helped everyone to keep track of what was happening and where the whale was at any given time.”

Read the complete article in Cinefex 144, which also features The Martian, Everest and Crimson Peak.

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