The Art & Science of Movie Special Effects
Special Effects News
Persistence of Vision
Principle of Motion Picture
Motion of Objects
(in alphabetical order)
The Parting Of The Red Sea
The parting and the closing of the Red Sea were achieved using the same technique. The ‘parting’ shot is just the ‘closing’ shot run in reverse. In fact, only in the closing of the Red Sea, we see the water flowing in the normal direction. In the parting shot, it is running in reverse. So we will first attempt to understand how the closing of the Red Sea was achieved. Once you understand that, only remember that the parting is just the reverse of that.
actually consists of four layers composited on top of each other.
camera was placed on one end of the trench. From the other end, about
300,000 gallons of water came gushing into the trench from three
directions. As the water flowed, it kept advancing towards the camera.
As the water filled up the trench, it must have looked like this.
Now, the water filling up the trench alone forms the fourth layer. As the water starts to fill up this layer, the walls of water that belong to the third layer and the army that belongs to the first layer are both totally covered.
In fact this shot is taken from two perspectives. First it is shown from Moses’ perspective, and then it switches over to Pharaoh’s perspective. For both the shots, the very same technique was used.
stated earlier, the parting of the red sea was just a reverse shot of
the fourth layer. As the water seems to flow out of the trench, it
reveals the walls of water in the third layer, and desert pathway in
the first layer.
By using real water in the third and fourth layers, and live actors in the layer beneath them, they were able to recreate an almost impossible effects shot with unbelievable realism.
To make the sequence even more realistic and complete, they have added two shots of the water splashing on the shore after the sea closes over itself.
Again they are taken from Moses' end as well as Pharaoh's.
For these shots, a three-sided enclosure was built and rapidly filled with water. The camera captures the water gushing out through the open end of the enclosure and splashing all over the shore.
By the ingenious use of real water in various layers, and cleverly compositing them with live actors in the layers beneath them, these brilliant effects technicians were able to create one of the most breathtaking shots in movie history.