The special effects behind that dramatic stadium save in ‘The Batman’

Some insider info from SFX technician Richard Cheal was revealed on the Team Deakins podcast.

One of the iconic scenes in Matt Reeves’ The Batman sees the title character leap onto the out-of-control sparking electronic scoreboard of a flooding indoor arena. Below the scoreboard are several trapped citizens facing possible electrocution.

Batman manages to cut the sparking cables to the scoreboard, but causing himself to fall into the water below. Later, he lights a red flare to lead out the group of people trapped in the mangled wreckage.

The Team Deakins podcast, featuring Roger and James Deakins happened to recently ask special effects technician Richard Cheal, who worked on the film, about that sparking cable and flare moment. Cheal was part of special effects supervisor Dominic Tuohy’s team on the film.

Cheal explained that a tank was built at Cardington Studios for the sequence shot. Cheal said, “in each individual wire in that cable…you’ve probably got 25 smaller cables inside. In each individual cable, we’d wire inside what we call a Zed spark in there. That’s a pyrotechnic that just does little sparks. They’d all go back to a box, they’d be numbered. And then you would flick the switches, like 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and they would spark individually.”

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The flare itself was a magnesium flare, Cheal also told Team Deakins. “They’re made up to a certain color that we can use. So for us, it will be lighting that flare and then passing it to Robert [Pattinson] or he’ll do it himself.”

It’s also worth noting the visual effects work realized for the arena sequence by Scanline VFX, covered here at befores & afters.

Meanwhile, listen to the whole episode with Cheal here, where there’s also discussion about other SFX done for The Batman, and for 1917, another film Cheal worked on.

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