While Warner’s “Inception” is earning accolades for its startling digital imagery, some of its most arresting scenes are done via practical effects captured in-camera.
For the hotel hallway fights, special effects supervisor Chris Corbould helped create a vast revolving set and rigged thesp Joseph Gordon-Levitt to fly.
“The weightless stuff was a mixture of every single trick in the book,” Corbould says. “In one little short sequence there were five different techniques.”
Corbould also captured silent, smoke-free slow-motion “explosions” on a Paris street using high-speed cameras, air cannons and lightweight replica “debris.”
After working around massive, powerful machines, Corbould goes home to England to a 15-acre farm in Surrey, where the horses come to his window for carrots. His brothers are in the f/x business as well, and his two children are starting showbiz careers, one as an actress and the other as a set decorator.
Corbould’s first taste of f/x work came after his uncle, who worked on f/x for “Superman” in the 1970s, got him a summer job helping out. Once done with school, his first gig was on “Tommy.”
“I was a great Who fan,” he remembers, so that helped make up for the agony of hand-opening every can of the baked beans that poured out of Ann-Margret’s TV set.
“I never had so many blisters in my life,” he says.
Of course, nowadays, Corbould is no longer working for beans.