The Screening Room Blog
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Filming underwater at Pinewood Studios


LONDON, England -- It's not every day you get a chance to watch a shoot in an underwater setting but that's exactly what happened at Pinewood Studios recently when I went to shoot "The Screening Room" host, Myleene Klass perform a sub-aqua stunt scene.

I had no idea what to expect. I thought I would turn up and see a small swimming pool and a camera but the underwater stage (known as the "u-stage") is huge, with a capacity of 12,000 liters and three viewing windows. An ultra-violet filtration system is used to make the water crystal clear. It reminded me of the tanks at the London Aquarium, but with Myleene swimming around with a team of divers and underwater cameramen instead of sharks.

Before she was allowed in the water, Myleene had to have a safety briefing and training session and was made up with special waterproof makeup before taking the plunge and starting the underwater shoot. I thought it looked pretty difficult -- remembering to hold your breath underwater, keep your eyes open, look relaxed AND act out your part.

Pinewood Studios' u-stage has played host to many movies including "Atonement," "Elizabeth: The Golden Age," and "Casino Royale."
For the scenes in "Elizabeth," they brought live horses in to swim in the tanks.

Getting scenes right in an underwater setting can be tricky, despite the skill of the actors and stunt professionals who often have to work in difficult situations like sitting in a sinking car pretending to drown in low lighting. Because of this computer imagery is often used as a finishing touch.

We spoke to the diving team -- this is a day job they love doing and some of them have become so accustomed to being underwater that being on dry land seems strange.

As we packed up to go home, I realised that underwater stunt work and computer graphic imagery go hand in hand. There are some things you just can't practically do, and that is where technology comes in to create graphics which make scenes look real without putting actors and stunt professionals in danger.

-- From CNN's Petra Ayar

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