Fire at the studio burns my face
Yep, fire is a tricky old thing. One moment you're still enjoying the dancing flames, the next moment your face is on fire and the world around you is melting.
- A lovely film set of African veld
- And then came the unimaginable pain
- Scaling it down
- The convection oven effect
A lovely film set of African veld
For a movie, I am currently creating a scene in which a wildfire destroys a large chunk of earth and destroys people's houses.
I have some footage shot on location during a real wildfire at night. Now all I need is a lot of specific shots, and these I am going to shoot during a controlled wildfire on set inside Studio Art.
Mr. Specter brought me a lot of veld grass yesterday, with the roots and all. I build a large area of veld indoors.
We did shoot some scenes of the movie with the wildfire burning on the indoor veld, but it got really late so we just decided we'll continue tomorrow.
And so the next day, I recreate an African veld on set that we can burn down.
Mr. Specter in disguise is the person who creates the line of fire that eventually stops the fire when the fire gets to the line of fire that's already burned out.
And then came the unimaginable pain
Everything is going so well. Until suddenly I feel lots of pain.
The pain is so bad I can barely think what it can be, or how to handle it.
What is causing this pain? Is it heat?
Only later I would realize what is probably happening is that the extreme heat of the fire ascended to the roof of the studio, where it probably collected and then formed a convection stream of heat coming down and going back up with the fire and then coming down again in a circle.
Of course everything was still fine one moment, until that heat wave came down with out warning and hit me from above and was cooking me alive.
I turn away from the fire and go down low on the ground. I can also now see the blue screen all along the wall, some four to seven metres away from any fire. And it's not a pretty sight, because that blue screen was built from polistyreen and painted blue, and from the top down it is now melting like swiss cheese asif it's ice in a fire.
I call to Mister Specter to look out for it so that mass of speedily descending morphing polistyreen doesn't engulf him and melt around his form.
There was also a black sail background some distance behind the fire, that was standing in for a dark night background behind our veld. That poor black sail didn't show any reaction whatsoever to the fire yesterday, but today it appears more of the grass is burning or something because from the mere heat that black background melts from the rafters onto the floor into a shapeless mass of goo.
"Kill it!", I shout to Mr. Specter. He knows this is his cue to open the large door and get the hose with already running water outside that we placed there just for in case, while I get the large bucket of water we also placed inside the studio for an emergency like this.
I pour it onto the fire while Mr. Specter is spraying the fire, but within an instant we are suffocating in a hot, blazing smoke and we flee outside.
From the outside, I spray water with the hose onto the fire. The water pressure isn't anything desirable, but at least it's working if I put my thumb in it to make it spray a little distance, and before long the fire is out.
I was hoping that we got out unscaved, but it seems only Mr. Specter got out of it unscaved. My face was so badly burned in the heat, that for months to come, I would still have these red marks on my face and forehead that shows my skin was exposed to severe heat.
Scaling it down
Well, Mr. Specter goes to do some of his work while we wait for the smoke in the studio to clear. Even with the doors wide open, it takes 45 minutes to get it to a level where one can breathe inside.
I finally recreate a veld we can burn down, but this time I use much less grass. I think the fire got just too big the previous time. I never thought that things as much as twenty metres away from a big fire can still melt from the heat. But, there it is - many light reflectors and a window screen in the same hall of the studio we're working in, have deformed and melted from the heat.
The convection oven effect
I think the lesson is to remember the oven effect. If you make a fire in a room, even a room that has ventilation, the room becomes like an oven in its entirety, being hot all over inside, and not just in and around the fire that heats it.
This time our scenes work out great, and fortunately I don't get cooked alive again. I do hope that over some time, my face won't keep looking so burnt. Is this permanent? Naah, I think I'll look better in a few months. One should just never expose your face to temperatures of a thousand or so degrees.
In any case, although many things melted and deformed in the studio, I'm very glad nothing aside from the fire had actual flames coming out of it.
The blue screen is something of the past now. A part of it came down on top of a light stand, and melted around it into the shape of the light stand. Now that it's become cold and hard again, it's kind of freakylooking and arty.