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    Anatomy of a Destruction Shot
    In this article Michael Eizenberg talks about the destruction of a scene from initial planning and shot development to final composite.
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    In this article I would like to talk about destruction scenes from initial planning and shot development to final composite. As an example I will be using one of the recent shots I was working on for a short film “Sedmoy”.

    (main character’s face is intentionally blurred in the tutorial materials by request of the copyright holders).

    Shot Planning


    Our first task is to determine what exactly we are going to do inside the shot based on the source material and the director’s guidelines. In this case we have a basic idea: a truck crashes into the wall, while our main heroes are trying to run away from it.

    Source footage
    Now we need to think about the details and all the events that are going to shape the shot. On this kind of shots many people tend to focus too much on getting as much debris flying all over the place, but I think that creating a little story inside the shot is much more important and will make it look more interesting overall. Of course lots of particles and good dynamics simulation is also very crucial, but it serves more as a background, and you should have something on top of that so that the viewer’s eye could focus on.

    Now let’s try to figure out the course of action:
    • The truck crushes into the wall
    • The wall starts to fall apart
    • The truck crushes the table that stands just by the wall
    • All of the stuff from the table flies of it. One of the books flies towards the camera
    • A piece of the wall drags one side of the banner. The banner starts to fall
    • Since the other side of the banner is still attached it tears into two parts
    • The second attachment point also breaks and the banner falls down
    • Debris reaches the foreground and hits the teapot. The teapot starts to fall.
    • One of the guys pushes the table. The table and everything on it scatters around.
    • Slow motion grows throughout the shot and everything freezes still by its end.
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