Cameron's titanic


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Thomas Ford

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Nov 30, 2000
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Hi
does anyone know where james cameron got his plans for E-Deck forward,because the master at arms is not where andrews in the movie tells rose where it is,could it have been another room?
 

Bill Sauder

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Nov 14, 2000
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Tom:

The Masters' at Arms cabin is shown on the Shipbuilder plans on "E" Deck forward on the port side. It is a large cabin forward of the athwartship's companionway and labeled "M AT ARM."

BTW, I worked on the Cameron movie. It's an excellent recreation of the Titanic but don't take it too literally. It's a piece of entertainment, not a documentary and certainly not a museum piece on film. Too many Titanic fans trip up analyzing the film and not the ship.

Bill Sauder
 
Oct 23, 2000
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Fascinating, Bill.
Say, do you know why there was only one measly scene involving the Californian scripted? Did Messers. Lynch and Marschall have anything to do with it being that way?
It strikes me as odd that there was only one Californian sequence scripted and filmed.
IMHO, it would have been best to have been all or nothing regarding the C., but that's the '97 chick flick for you.

Richard (Happy New Year! :) ) K.
 
Dec 31, 2000
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RE: James Cameron's Film
I would like to see the stuff the was cut out of the film. I have seen some of it on Cameron's Explorer, which I really have enjoyed. Does anyone know of any information on that subject?
Thank you and happy 2001 to all!
 
Sep 12, 2000
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Dear Bill Sauder,

Just a comment here, I think that the work that was done on the ship architecture especially given the movie limitations was fantastic.

In my silly little life, I have had the experience only of contributing in a minor way to minor productions and props and work on scenary over the years and so when I look at the work that you and others contributed to the whole movie I must say KUDOS!

Artistc freedoms allow so much in a story of fiction based on a real act and being an architect or historian must be very hard and I'm sure can be totally overwhelming.

I am nobody sir, but I think that you produced a great thing with the production of Titanic.

Many are critical, but I believe that this one movie helped to continue the story of Titanic to generations and places that were never dreamt of before and the interest will cause them to search for the truth.

Enjoy your day.
Maureen.
 

Tracy Smith

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I agree, Maureen, especially with your last paragraph.

Haven't seen you in days. Where have you been, OW?
happy.gif
 
Sep 12, 2000
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Now was that Ow as in Ouch or OW as in the Old Woman!? Hey there Tracy, just having some fun with you. I want to say that I was off with a handsome guy in the tropics, but alas, Santa did not bring him. So it has just been some long days at work that have kept me quiet for some of the time, that is all.

Good to see you Tracy!
Happy New Year!
Maureen.
 

Cal Haines

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Nov 20, 2000
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Greetings One and All!

Just wanted to add that I, too, enjoyed James Cameron's Titanic very much--one of my all time favorite movies. I've never understood why so many "hard core" Titanic enthusiasts seem to have such hatred for Mr. Cameron. I think he's one of us, really--it's just that he was able to wrangle a way to go see her himself. He certainly helped raise the awareness of Titanic and got a lot of people, young and old, interested in the night of April 14, 1912.

Bill,

Any idea why the engine and boiler room "sets" were so far off? Cameron invested great effort in reproducing the upper decks, but the engine room and boiler rooms sets weren't even close.

Also, I've seen mention of a miniature set used for some of the engine room scenes. Do you know anything about that part of the film?

Warm Regards,

Cal
 
Dec 27, 2000
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Bill,

Can you tell me how much of the ship was actually built? I know it was built to a certain scale, but one part I was interested in was that only half was made, so in some scenes the officers had their buttons on the other side and any letters or numbers were produced backwards, so they would appear the right way round when mirrored. Its something like that, I can't remember where I read it though!

Thanks
Laura
 

Bill Sauder

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Laura:

The Cameron sets were built on four sound stages as I recall and three exterior set pieces. If you can get Ed Marsh's book, do so. It has some nice shots of the sets during filming.

1) The largest was an almost full size recreation of the exterior of the Titanic. It ran from the forward well deck all the way to the stern. In order to economize its construction, several dozen feet were "edited out" of the ship's length. The "ship" was basically a huge scaffold set in an enormous outdoor tank which permitted the structure to be tilted to show the Titanic's progressive flooding.

This exterior set could be fully explored externally (Boat, Prom, Bridge, Shelter decks were all there with real stair cases) however the only internal sets built into this shell were the wheel house and bridge, otherwise it was pretty much empty. BTW, during the departure scene, you see people waving out the portholes and windows. This was shot after the dining room scene and the renaissance dining room chairs were propped up on brackets on the inside of the hull so the actors would could hang out the windows in the right angle to wave.

Only one side (the starboard side) was "dressed" in hull plating, the port side was naked iron work. This was done so that the natural sun fell on the set in approximately the same way the sun shown on Titanic in the Atlantic during her crossing. The problem was the ship showed her port side to the wharf and therefore the camera when she leaves Southampton. This was solved by dressing the sets in "mirror image" props (signs that read backwards, buttons on the wrong side)

2) The second large set was a three or four story scaffold build in an enormous tank that was dressed to represent most of the first class spaces. It ran from about the elevators back to the back of the dining room on three or so deck levels (my memory is getting thin so long after the fact. I think they edited out Shelter deck) You could walk down the first class stairs from Boat deck, Prom deck, Bridge deck and wind up in the Reception room, the walk aft thru the Recep. Room to the dining room and into the doors leading to the galleys (they were not built -- that's where the set ended). As with the exterior, the interior scaffolding was tilted and the tank flooded. When you see Cal chase Rose and Jack through the reception room, there's a good 25 feet of water under them already as the tank floods. The flooding sets were also a mess from a safety point of view. All those lights in the ceilings ran off 110 volts and special provisions were made to ensure nobody got electrocuted.

The quality of the workmanship was incredible. The stairway sets were dressed in real oak, not photoboard maisonite which is usual. It was like being in a huge doll house. All the rooms had their complement of furniture. The wicker in the reception room and the oak chairs in the dining room were special made for the movie and VERY well constructed and very faithful. Oddly, the cabin furnishings were a disappointment. Rather than recreating them or use period pieces, a lot of the stuff (esp in Andrew's cabin) is Victorian from the 1880's.

The only public rooms created "in the round" (all 4 walls) were the reception room, the dining room, and the verandah cafe. The Gym had the forward wall missing. BTW, they cheated. Rather than go through the trouble of laying a linoleum floor in the gym, they just used ceramic tiles.

3) Many of the interior lounges were built as "stand alone" sets i.e. they were not built into the larger full scale interior structure I just mentioned. The lounge, smoke room, palm court, state rooms, engine, boiler rooms and cabins were ordinary sets with the forth (and sometimes third) wall missing. They were not installed in the main set to facilitate lighting by having a "wild" (removable) ceiling. The dinning room, for example, was a nightmare for the technicians to light properly. First, the ceiling could not be removed so overhead lighting was difficult. Second, some doofus painted the ceiling in a GLOSS paint. This was wonderful for light bounce that improved illumination, but was awful since gloss paint shows every defect and joint in a wall and ceiling and sets are far from perfect.

4) There was an interior tank sound stage where the life boat scenes were shot. It was about 4 feet deep and the water was cold. Cameron and the actors were all in there and every few minutes between takes, they'd jumped out and run over to a heated Jacuzzi to warm up.

5) A tilting poop deck was constructed full size outside and this formed the core of the "tip up and sink" scene at the end of the movie. Very impressive and very scary.

Bill Sauder
 

Bill Sauder

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Cal:

I was the tech consultant on that part of the film and supplied them with blueprints, photos, drawing, sketches of small props, uniforms and dialogue. What they did with it is another story.

Seriously, the original plan was to build a large moving model of the engine room and superimpose the actors. I saw the model under construction and it was huge, the recips were about 5 feet tall. It was only of the Recip engines with the forward bulkhead removed for a one point perspective shot of the room. I am not sure they used that model or found another way to film, say against existing recip engines.

A lot of the errors were a concession to camera angles and story telling. I worked with the second unit director and he was very concerned that the main engine controls were all mounted against the engine, meaning he had nothing to show the camera during the crash astern maneuver except the actors' backs. I suggested that it might be dramatic to shoot the scene looking thru the engine with the moving parts in soft focus over the faces but, as Mammy points out in another memorable film, "Askin' ain' gettin'" and so all the controls were moved to the centerline in a freestanding arrangement. That let the engineers run like chickens and the Chief Engineer could spill his tea on cue. (at the film schools, recurring ideas like the symbolism of the tea cups is called a lied motif . Pretty fancy.)

Bill Sauder
 

Bill Sauder

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Richard:

As far as I know, Cameron actually shot several extra scenes for the movie on the Californian but edited them out since it is marginal to the main story (Jack and Rose) and the movie was just running so LONG. I don't think Don and I know Ken had nothing to do with the subject being virtually deleted.

Cameron has been asked several time now if he is coming out with a "director's" cut and he has said "no," that the film as released WAS the director's cut, and that the extra footage was extraneous. I don't know of any plans to market the missing footage and would doubt they are going to any time soon since interest in the movie has cooled and the project might not make its money back this late in the game.

Bill Sauder
 

Cal Haines

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Hi Bill,

Thanks for the information! I always get a kick out of the scene where Jack and Rose run around the side of the boiler, next to the hull. You wouldn't want to try that on the real ship!

I know some of the engine scenes were shot using the engine of SS Jeremiah O'Brien. Have you been aboard her?
S.S. Jeremiah O'Brien As A Movie Set

I can see how all the ladders, columns, pipes and such would make filming in an accurate copy of the engine room a real pain.

If you ever hear what happened to that model of the engine room, I would sure like to know. A fellow over at TRMA said he had seen it in Europe (IIRC).

Warm Regards,

Cal

Steady, ... Steady, .. Engage the REVERSING ENGINE!
 

Inger Sheil

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Feb 9, 1999
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Hallo there, Cal -

Occasional board frequenter, Ilya McVey, was working on the Jeremiah O'Brien at the time of the Cameron shoot - in fact, he prepped the engines for the film crew :) He also has some splendid photos he showed me of the ship cruising around while the filming took place - 'The Jeremiah O'Brien playing Titanic', as he chuckled.

All the best,

Inger
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Interesting. I've been aboard that ship when one of my own visited San Francisco back in 1990. They must have had to dress it up with some computer animation to make it look like the Titanic's engine room.

Comments Bill?

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
I

I. M. McVey

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Hallo, Michael!

Hope you don't mind if I bilge in here a wee. The scenes containing the Lovely Lady (Main Engine) on board of "Jeremiah O'Brien" had a very odd mixture of real machinery (the engine herself), miniature catwalks and piping added into the engine to give the appearance of larger size, and digitially-created back-grounds. Then, through some process as mysterious to me as the workings of the ship were to them, they added in the actors, etc.

They had some cardboard cut-out people they would place here and there in the engine, to help them visualise the shots for scale whilst they were setting up. The first day, I looked at them, then the engine for a long time. Then I told their lead person, I thought perhaps the cardboard people were a bit too small.

The good man's reaction was surprising -- he was seriously alarmed! He said, 'Please don't let the director hear you say that!!!' I immediately promised him I wouldn't breathe a word, and reassured him, then went round behind the engine, doing my level best to not let the other devil escape me. But I had to say =something= or burst, so I told the engine itself, then had to sit on the side of the hotwell and larf a while.

'If he's that upset about the size of his wee people, I guess I had better not tell him that 'Titanic's engine had four legs, whilst ours has got only three!' I said to the engine.

Was afraid the good man might have been done for had I let that one out! ;-)

So, a wee bit of engineer humour for a Friday afternoon!

Cheers! Ilya M
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Love that one Ilya. Might have been worth it to spill the beans to the director just to see the look on his face.
crazy.gif
.

Would have been worth it to have a camera handy for that one.

Hows school going BTW? I just bought a copy of Knights Modern Seamanship so I can better keep up with some of the engineers and shiphandlers around here.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Inger Sheil

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:) I just purchased a copy of Knights Modern Seamanship too, Michael - from 1945 ;-) Neither contemporary with the Titanic disaster nor up to date! But it had the virtue of being cheap...rather like the pristine hardcover of Marcus' 'The Maiden Voyage' I found in the same shop for $10.00 - plans intact and all.
 

Bill Sauder

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"Steady, ... Steady, .. Engage the REVERSING ENGINE!"

Cal:

Funny you quote that line from the movie. When I was talking to the second unit director, he was disappointed that the engines could be reversed with so little effort and drama. He expected to see engineers flying around the engine room like they do when a the sub dived in Das Boot.

All I can say is they are making a movie, not doing an educational film. And with whatever faults it may have, I wish I had a penny for every dollar it made.

Bill Sauder
 
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