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The best and worst VFX scenes from San Andreas

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This week the newest doomsday Hollywood blockbuster, San Andreas, comes out staring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as helicopter pilot extraordinaire, Chief Ray Gains. The film's plot takes place in California, where an major earth quake sends the states major cities crumbing to the ground. Making things worse is a mega tsunami that threatens to drown remaining survivors in a Perfect Storm-type wave. It's doubtful The Rock's acting or last minute rescues will be able to sustain much interest in film's characters or plot. The movie's Rotten Tomatoes score seems to agree. Instead it will probably be left up to VFX studios like Method, Scanline, and Cinesite to awe audiences by bringing some awesome shots of falling skyscrapers, yawning fault lines and tsunami tides bearing down on Los Angeles. Here's our evaluation of the quality of the VFX based upon the film's trailers.
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=23VflsU3kZE?rel=0&vq=hd720&showinfo=0&autohide=1&theme=light&color=white&w=800&h=450]

Crazy swimming pool (Nailed it!)

[caption id="attachment_44464" align="alignnone" width="800"] © 2015 WARNER BROS. ENT. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED[/caption] In this scene (Trailer #3, 0:50) we see Gains' ex-wife Emma (Carla Gugino) trying to escape her office building only to discover an adjacent one in the middle of collapsing. The RBD's create a realistic crumbling effect for the building even though the decent of the debris seems a bit too fast. But the fluid dynamics of the swimming pool's splashing effects are effectively rendered and the water's curious activity provides a nice touch of realism to the scene.

Whose fault is this? (Fail)

[caption id="attachment_44476" align="alignnone" width="800"]Fault (no markup) © 2015 WARNER BROS. ENT. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED[/caption] One of the shots (trailer #2 above, 1:15) of the actual San Andreas Fault line shows some great modeling work, but the illusion is spoiled somewhat by the impossibility of the perspective. You can see from the image below that the idea was to show the Earth's plates splitting and then shifting (the left side forward, the right side backwards). The gas station's right side parking lot and its cars appear smaller when compared to the left, also suggesting they are further away. [caption id="attachment_44475" align="alignnone" width="800"]Fault © 2015 WARNER BROS. ENT. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED[/caption] However, the lines of the alternating green and brown fields in the background (area 1) actually align in reverse and counter to this implied shift. What's more, the road in the foreground remains straight (area 2), producing an impossible result. The right half of the road should actually appear closer to the camera.

Golden Gate Bridge (Nailed it!)

[caption id="attachment_44482" align="alignnone" width="800"]bridge © 2015 WARNER BROS. ENT. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED[/caption] Of course what California disaster scenario would be complete without a threat to one of its most iconic structures, the Golden Gate Bridge (trailer #2, 2:08). The shot's composition is superb, forming two main parallel lines of attention: the bridge and the wave. The green and red lines increase the tension of the scene by competing for our attention as the ominous tidal wave quickly approaches the tiny boats and the crowd of fleeing motorists trying to escape their doom. The famous bridge is meticulously reconstructed while the lowering of the water levels is realistically portrayed. Lines of retreating water on the opposite shore of the San Francisco Bay are shown being sucked into the wave's vacuum while a few smaller boats (bottom right) retreat from their initial attempts to crest the wave. Overall, the shot is a great example of what audiences might appreciate most from San Andreas.