We received an email from a client, who had purchased our film 'The Americans in The Bulge'. He could not understand how we had managed to film German armor, particularly the Tiger II tank and the Panther.
Unlike Holland, during the filming of Hell's Highway, where we had the use of a WWII American tank, we had no such luxury with 'The Bulge'.
|Cameraman Philip Robertson with WWII American tank in Holland|
|La Gleize, Belgium.Shell of Tiger II left behind by SS|
After a series of negotiations with the famous tank museum at Saumur in France, we decided that hiring the working King Tiger, for the day and filming it in front of a giant blue screen, was not a viable option. Apart from the significant cost involved, the logistics were too difficult.
We knew that trying to portray the actions in the Ardennes without examples of menacing German tanks lurking down every snowy forest path, would be challenging and could well lack the element needed to maintain the interest of a younger audience.
|Cem prepares for filming.|
Racking our brains, we came up with the idea of filming miniature 1/6th scale, remote control tanks on blue screen. We located a company in England, Mark-1-Tanks, who build these incredible models and sell them to enthusiasts around the world. We assembled our camera team and accompanied by our young visual effects artist Cem Hizli, we spent several days filming a variety of tanks, assault guns and halftracks.
For all you would be purchasers a King Tiger model can cost up to $15,000, depending on final level of equipment and finish.
Tiger II on blue screen
Filming the models was just the start. The next problem would be capturing the right shots in Belgium and then with the aid of Adobe after effects, adding the models to the scenes. During the film edit, our editor Matt Hart often managed skilfully to meld the new shots with archive footage. There is only so much archive footage and it has been seriously overused, so the models gave us a new dimension.
Here is a 'StuG' mobile assault gun and
our presenter hiding from it.
Model 'Panther' in snow and on blue screen
Massed German Armor and Infantry