The amount of work and engineering skill that goes into making movies often astonishes me. Via The Perfect Storm: Gimbal Madness
Petersen scouted the film world to find the ideal spot to shoot his actors swarming on the Andrea Gail. One by one, the Malta tank, Universal Lake, and the Baja facility where Titanic was made, were shot down. Petersen and Frazier decided instead to dig the largest soundstage tank in the world-a 95′ square, 22′ deep hole in the floor of Warner’s legendary Stage 16.
In addition to Stage 16′s huge motion base, the project demanded a whopping seven gimbals. Frazier had his hands full insuring that the full-scale prop boats could weather the rough ride. He says that although the real Andrea Gail was all steel, the film’s construction team initially wanted to work in wood. “We said, ‘Forget it! The first time we turn this gimbal on, it’s going to come apart’,” Frazier recalls. “So our Andrea Gail’s all steel too. Anything else wouldn’t have held up under the g-force we were pulling.”
Meanwhile, Frazier and company set to work building what he says is the most complex gimbal ever designed for a feature film, a six-axis hydraulic motion base measuring 25′ in diameter and 15′ high. “Most gimbals have a universal pivot joint in the middle which gives us two axes of movement,” Frazier explains. “Instead, this one has six intersecting rams on a 15-degree angle arranged in a circle. Each ram looks like an inverted ‘V’, and all six rams supported the Andrea Gail, which weighed 150,000 pounds. Each ram was capable of picking up 25,000 pounds. It’s a take-off of flight simulator technology, but I don’t think anyone ever thought 150,000 pounds would be sitting on top of one!”