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Cinesite Creates Plane Crash For State Within BBC Miniseries

Cinesite has been responsible for providing visual effects supervision and 20 effects shots on the major new conspiracy thriller, STATE WITHIN, which airs on BBC1 beginning Nov. 2, 2006.

This six-part BBC miniseries follows British Ambassador to the U.S. Mark Brydon (Jason Isaacs) in the wake of a major international incident. Set inside diplomatic circles, the thriller follows Brydons attempts to uncover the truth about a devastating plane crash and unmask the invisible puppeteer who appears to be playing him.

In an early incident, which forms the basis for the following diplomatic repercussions, Brydon drives along a motorway as an aircraft takes off and explodes overhead. Brydon views the initial explosion through his sunroof. His driver swerves to avoid falling debris from the aircraft and stops his vehicle to look at the resulting devastation. Cinesite visual effects supervisor Jon Neill flew to Toronto earlier this year to supervise filming on a deserted highway, which was specially dressed for the sequence.

Neill scaled a 100-foot crane with a special HDRi camera, in order to accurately record lighting conditions at the approximate height at which the plane would be seen. This proprietary HDRi (High Dynamic Range Imaging) system intelligently captures and consolidates the best aspects of multiple photographs taken across a range of exposures; the result is a 360- degree environment with all areas visible and clear. This ensured that the reflections, shadows and definition are all appropriate for the planes position in space. Cinesite were then set a challenge to model, texture and light a realistic computer-generated Airbus 320 plane.

The explosion and subsequent massive smoke trail were created using fluid dynamics (in Maya), which gave a billowing, volumetric effect and allowed for debris elements to fly through the smoke in a convincing way.

Large sections of falling fuselage and suitcases were modeled, then animated using a particle replacement system, which also added highly realistic smoke trails. Black debris similar to falling snow was created to realize the fine mist of particulate debris, which showers the action on the motorway once the larger pieces have fallen. The finished sequence forms a highly realistic and emotionally affecting opening for what looks set to be a gripping series.

London-based Cinesite ( is a Kodak-owned, high-end facility offering visual effects services, including digital effects, physical effects, models, film scanning and recording.