SPFX - Volcano Eruption - Valencia

"Crack in the World" is a prime example of how a great production design and outstanding special effects 
can enormously enhance a small budget B-Movie!
Everything looks much more expensive than it really was.
Art Director and Director of SPFX Eugène Lourié:
"A Crack in the World was the first film for this production company, Security Pictures.
Everything had to be started from scratch. From lists of unknown names, I had to find reliable 
assistants and technicians. I also had to evaluate available studios.
But most of my time was occupied with finding ways of realizing the tricky sequences in the film."
We go behind the scenes of 'Project Inner Space', where "international special effects experts 
set off underground atom blast and continents collapse...volcanos erupt...
a new moon is torn from the earth's womb...
and the energy of a thousand suns explodes the surface of the globe!".

Eugène Lourié brought a great crew together.
The 'Bronston Studio' special effects chief Alex Weldon and his well-trained 
spanish Crew (Basilio Cortijo/...) constructed and supervised the physical effects, 
the explosions etc.
Lourié designed the miniatures and sets which were constructed by Charles-Henri Assola and the spanish 
expert Francisco Prosper. 
Assola built 2 great models of the gantry tower for the launching of the atomic missile.
One tower was built of metal, with fine details, like a working elevator and other moving parts.
This was used for the close-up shots (see photo above). 
Another gantry tower was built in balsa wood and this one was used for the explosion scene.
The explosion of the balsa wood gantry tower set.
Eugène Lourié: "The dimensions of this miniature set were very large. 
I chose a plateau on location in the vicinity of Madrid. The plateau was about 500 by 500 feet and 
surrounded by our miniature mountains. In the center of this plateau were the gantry tower..."
Wow! Could this be the spacious scientific center of Dr.Lava built deep in a natural cave for the
long lost 'Man from U.N.C.L.E." episode 'The molten Lava Affair'? 
A truly impressive set!
Eugène Lourié: "To build the set economically and show the high vaulted ceiling, I decided to use 
foreground (or hanging) miniatures. I limited the actual height of the built set to twenty feet.
The upper part of the set would be added with the hanging miniatures.
As for any trick shots, the had to be calculated from a predetermined camera angle and required a 
fixed camera position that could not be changed by a last-minute whim."
Lourié: "The upper two-thirds of this shot is a hanging miniature, including the cables  attached to the overhead fluorescent lamps. It took eight hours to make the match." Art Director Eugène Lourié on a ladder in front of the miniature, which hung solidly above the heads of the crew. The biggest "Crack in the World" Set, the central hall of the underground center, including the hanging miniature, was housed in the CEA Studios (Madrid). Lourié: "The camera was installed and Assola (the french miniature wizard, ed.) worked patiently  on the final adjustments, checking through the camera lens the exact fitting of the miniature details 
with the corresponding details of the life-size sets."
During a break on one of the largest Sets built in the CEA studios.
Bernard Glasser (co-producer), Dana Andrews, Andrew Marton (Director), Janette Scott and 
Kieron Moore (L to R), relax before the next take of "Crack in the World".
The day the earth split in two!

Sketch (by Eugène Lourié) of the imposing volcano eruption, a split sceen shot.
Lourié: "On the top of a hill, close to Madrid, a platform was erected, ten feet by ten feet, four 
feet above the ground. On this platform we built the miniature volcano.
The word 'miniature' is misleading: our volcano was about eight feet high above the platform.
The height of the platform allowed us to place the camera in line with the bottom line of 
the volcano and to have an unobstructed view of the sky above.
The horizontal line of the base of the volcano formed the line where the volcano meets the sea.
Miles distant and months later, we shot a view of the sea. 
Optically combined (it is called 'split screen shot'), it became our composite shot.
On this composite shot I asked the Technicolor lab processing our film to print over the reverse image 
of the volcano erupting, thus forming the volcano reflection on the water.
This reverse image was printed very lightly, not to obscure the movements of the waves."
The sea portion of the split-screen volcano eruption was shot in the south of Valencia, 
on the 'Playa El Saler'.
A strong platform was installed for the steady camera shot.
The split-screen technique requires that the action of one component shot not overlap the other.
Comparison photo - Playa El Saler, Valencia, 2012 - The volcano is still active!
Shot in 'split-location' technique. The upper part was filmed in Madrid, the lower in Valencia.
Kieron Moore with Janette Scott and co-producer Lester A. Sansom on the El Saler beach near Valencia.
Relaxing Film Star, Janette Scott momentarily forgets the cracking earth and relaxes with 
Director Andrew Marton on the El Saler Beach of Valencia, 1964.
Several Stills were shot on that beach. One was used in the movie...
Ted Rampion (Kieron Moore) tears this photo of him and his old (and new) love Maggie Sorensen (Janette Scott) to pieces
in the movie. 
Lunch break for the crew.

Now we come to the molten Lava effects (miniature), shot in the Bronston Studios 
(formerly Chamartin Studios, Madrid).
The film mogul Samuel Bronston took over the control of the Chamartin studios in 1962.
Besides his own productions, the studio has been rented out to other productions.
Here you can find a comprehensive report about the filming of the Burt Kennedy Western 
'Return of the Seven' in the Bronston Studios: Seven in Alicante.
The interior walls of the seventy-foot high volcano crater were built outside the highest wall of the 
Bronston Studios for live action sequences. 
Kieron Moore guide an atomic bomb into the crater.
The boiling lava lake at the bottom of the crater was a miniature set, about twenty by twenty feet, 
built on stage of the Bronston Studio.
Filming the SPFX for 'Crack in the World' in the Bronston Studios, 1964.
Art Director Eugène Lourié: "The lake was a cauldron of boiling lava that steamed and hissed. 
An articulated puppet was dropped inside, caught fire on contact with the lava, and was 
instantly consumed in flames. The scene looked quite spectacular....The Lava was made of 
churned oatmeal with silver powder scattered on top and was lit with red, flickering light. 
During the action the lava was peppered with sodium and carbide, chemicals that burst into 
flame and popped on contact with the liquid lava. 
We also had conduits of steam and smoke, and the overall effect was quite impressive."
The boiling lava lake miniature.
A tremendous miniature - The cracks in the earth advancing toward the buildings of the scientific center.
The miniature occupied the entire floor space of one of the biggest stages at Bronston Studios.
Lourié: "The view encompassed quite an area and showed the cracks as they formed in the hills, 
revealing incandescent lava flowing between the jagged edges of the cracks."
Lourié: "For the effects of the opening cracks and the fiery lava flows, 
I decided to use a purely visual trick.
The jagged parting of the earth would be done in a complex but mechanically simple way, 
using set pieces mounted and moved on dolly rails and wheels. The lava flows inside would be 
moving plastic belts painted in red and orange transparent colors and lit from below with 
strong lights, directing their beams toward the camera lens. The plastic belts would move on 
two drums, giving the impression that the 'lava' is moving down the hill."
Sketch of the light effect of the lava flow by Eugene Lourié.
The filming of the miniature sequence - Bronston Studio, 1964.
Keep an eye on the tree and the bole on the right side. They're for a live action scene in the studio.
The final scene shot in the Bronston studio in 'molten lava light' with Janette Scott and Kieron Moore.
Bronston Studio - Details of the final scene.
Today's terrifying look into what might happen tomorrow!
An outstanding source for this report was the book of Eugène Lourié 'My work in films'.
It's been a few years old, but it keeps popping up on ebay. Highly recommended!
All 'Crack in the World'/Bronston Studio photos are of my personal archive.

'Crack in the World' Director Andrew Marton was a famous Second Unit action sequences Director.
He directed challenging scenes for 'Ben Hur', 'Cleopatra' and the Samuel Bronston epic 
'The Fall of the Roman Empire'.
Andrew 'Bundy' Marton waits for the sun before filming one of the spectacular battles in 
'The Fall of the Roman Empire' for Samuel Bronston Productions, for which he was in charge 
of Second Unit Operations.
A few years ago I discovered the spanish locations of another Andrew Marton 'Security Pictures' B-Movie: 
The thin red line