CHIHUAHUA - Figure.
One-15 inch tall, life-size dog.
Silicone rubber, whiskers, and glass eyes.
Our Chihuahua has been used for a stunt dog, sitting on the backseat of a speeding taxi, also for a shattering effect. Aside from a wagging tail, it has no movement, but can be rigged to move if needed. It is sculpted and painted to look like it has hair. A few punched whiskers and a small amount of hair punched in the ears help complete the illusion. We also used the same form for our Taco Bell shattering chihuahua effect, scroll down to view.
The big challenge of this shatter effect was our clients'request to have our Chihuahua crack/shatter completely first, then have all the pieces fall to the ground. Starting with eggshell thin castings, heavily pre-scored in small triangle patterns, we experimented with a lot of different approaches- a pyro shockwave from above, an air-ram shockwave from below, different types of wire pulls, a rake arm, and even one by one piece removal. Using primer cord, we were able to achieve the pyro without smoke, but the Pyro still gave off a flash that could not be removed. The air ram shockwave was promising, but dissipated too much before reaching and affecting the head enough.
Substituting sugar glass for the prescored castings was not able to increase the reach of the shockwave into our Chihuahua form. Wire pulls also could not achieve enough small pieces. A combination air ram shockwave and simultaneous downward wire pull was an improvement but unable to create small enough pieces. A rake arm pulled down from outside the piece tended to pop too many pieces outward, revealing the source of the shatter. The same with a rapid air cannon filled, green-screen balloon pop. The best approach turned out to be a combination of a few of these techniques. We cross-threaded fishing line back & forth through the pre-scored small triangle pattern cuts , weaving fishing line throughout the interior of the prescored bodies. A rake arm was then ripped downward from inside the dog, through the cross-threaded wires. This was pretty dramatic but stiil needed improvement- the head was still not coming apart enough.
The solution was found by shooting individual piece by piece pulls, one at a time, from the top down, and compositing these together with the wire-rake pull footage. Film was shot at high speed to thoroughly capture every detail in every step of these split-second performances. In-Site-Pix (www.insitepix.com), who we've worked together with so successfully in the past, did all the composite assembly work.
SHATTERING CHIHUAHUA - Credits
TACO BELL 'Shattered' commercial. Brent Thomas, director.
TACO BELL commercial. Rocky Morton, director.