Photography and special effects

Last Update: 03 August 1998

For Director of Photography, Rod Stewart, Bravo Two Zero has been an incredibly challenging, but fulfilling project. "We were looking at a rather harsh reality which we created with the lighting," he says. "The pretty pictures were out the window on this project."

With over two weeks of exterior night shoots in the desert, with vast areas to cover and no natural light sources to help with lighting, creating the right effect was a difficult task. As a dramatised documentary the idea was not to create a visual delight. "It has been fun to play with the desert visually," comments Stewart. "To keep with the feeling, I eliminated the use of back lights, and played for front lights in the desert, which has been very, very effective. It hasn't flattened the image at all, but has made it harsh and uncompromising."

Special Effects Co-ordinator Dave Beavis was flown in from England to work with the South African team on this project. "Our main priority was speed and safety, because there was a lot to do, with not much time to do it in and we were working with many different techniques, a lot of chemicals and explosive devices," says Beavis.

The conditions in the desert proved most challenging for this team because the wind destroyed everything they constructed and sand particles jammed the machines. Huge amounts of gear had to be taken into the desert because this is where most of the scenes requiring spectacular phosphorous grenade explosions and bomb blasts were filmed.

Wind machines, constructed from microlight engines with stronger props, were used for all the scenes requiring dust storms and snow. Comments Beavis, "In the Iraqi desert there is a scene where the guys are caught in snow. We had to build special rigs to make the snow - a high pressured tank to pump out a liquid that when mixed with a certain chemical, creates foam. We also used the wind machines at the Upington Air Base to create a very forceful wind effect as the eight men were jumping out of the back of the airborne Chinook. Smaller, electric fans were used for close-up shots requiring wind, because the wind machines are far too noisy."

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