art by bill
art for the REEL world
art for the REAL world
about Bill
art direction and graphic art for feature film and television.
Special Effects came to the Art Dept with a pretty big project. The script called for the explosion of a Navy Headquarters Building and they were having a bit of a time with the dynamics of the building. So I was tasked with coming up with a solution to this problem.

After a very careful survey of the front facing office spaces in the building we were to use.... An initial design was sketched out and presented to the SPFX Team. On that consultation we went over the actual Equipment that would be used... They were very eager to have the biggest bang they could safely get, without damage to the building.

With the amount and size of the mortars and "poppers" they were wanting to use, it was necessary go back and beef up the original design to deal with the downward and outward force that would be brought to bear on the structure of the blast boxes.

This custom build was made entirely 3/4" ply, and a tremendous amount of 2x4s, as well as as many Hurricane Straps as we could place on it.

There were 6 total boxes constructed, and with the sheer size and weight of them, they had to be built in pieces and assembled on site.

Back in the Real World, I designed concrete forms for a while, and used that method of construction to deal with the force. Concrete heats up, expands, and is extremely heavy.... Not to mention the Head Pressure that is exerted during the pour. Fire and explosive force acts like a liquid, and one needs to adhere to the laws of hydrodynamics and thermodynamics. Force and flow will take the easiest less resistant path outward. With this in mind, the angle of blast was calculated and the appropriate angle was given to the blast boxes to properly focus the force in the correct direction.
The opening at the back of the box allowed air to enter, equalizing the pressure and directing the blast outward. If the box were closed, we would have had 6 bombs, and one less location!

The "blasted windows" were replaced with balsa and candy glass... The boxes put in place and made live.

On The Day.... The explosion was MASSIVE! Much bigger than anyone had really expected, with enough force to rattle windows for a mile around. But due to the excellent build by the construction team, the proper anchoring, and safety protocols put in place, the event went off without incident... And made for an excellent scene in the final cut of the movie.

Only one of the boxes actually moved 1/2" after the blast. No damage to the structure was noted other than a bit of scoring from the heat of the blast. Let's hear it for math! Woo Hoooo!
SPFX Blast Boxes for 2 Guns...
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