A more challenging water shot involved the rescued B-29 crew climbing out of life rafts into the blister of the PBY. Here, the angles facing the plane were shot with the full-size PBY in Palm Springs. Since the sequence is supposed to take place on the open ocean, practical effects technician John Stirber rigged a platform for the rafts that sat atop large inner tubes. Attached levers were lifted and lowered to simulate ocean waves and a large water mister sprayed the actors with simulated ocean prop wash.
“We were on such a short schedule,” recalls Johnson, in relation to the filming of this scene. “The establishing angle was shot off the shoulder and took a lot of cajoling to get it dialed in during post because the motion of the camera wasn’t centered on the nodal point, it was just free form, so the subtle changes in perspective made tracking different mattes and elements more challenging. It’s a very quick shot in the final edit, but it’s vital to set the geography of the overall event.”
In order to capture the reverse angle simulating the POV from the interior of the plane outwards, the filmmakers duplicated the action on the open ocean with actors climbing out of the life rafts past the camera and onto a camera yacht. “After I cut it all together, it really cemented the illusion that you’re on the open ocean in the middle of a dangerous rescue,” states Johnson.
Journey to Royal (https://www.journeytoroyal.com) is now completed, save for a final sound mix. Test screenings have been carried out and the final cut comes in at 90 minutes. Johnson and Tosca are negotiating a deal with a distributor and hope to find novel ways to show people the film during this pandemic.