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Pigeons Perform For Cinesite

Visual effects company Cinesite photographed and composited specially bred and trained roller pigeons for the Warner Bros. Pictures feature film TRAINING DAY, starring Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke. In one scene, Hawke is driving down a street and sees pigeons out the window. The two birds separate and come tumbling down directly toward the camera and then catch themselves. In another scene, the camera angle is above, looking down at a street as the birds tumble down. This tumbling is a behavior that is bred into certain types of pigeons, so Cinesite's team went on location with a pigeon handler to shoot plates of the birds in action and then composited them into scenes from another location."It was fairly difficult to film them and get exactly what we needed to match up with the other live action," explained Tom Smith, visual effects supervisor for Cinesite. "We erected a giant blue screen behind the birds, but it interfered with their sense of territory and made it difficult for them to perform. With patience, we were able get the shots, separate what we needed, and put the pigeons into the sequence. In all, it was about eight shots." Cinesite also completed other effects for the film, including enhancing a cigarette butt that Washington flicks off Hawke's face and adding bullet holes to kitchen cabinets where a party takes place.