It started as a line in the script:
INSERT [PARIS] A comet races towards the earth and destroys the Eiffel Tower.
After doing some initial storyboarding and planning I presented an alternative to the director and producers. The Eiffel Tower (along with all of Paris) had been suitably destroyed in Armageddon (1998) so perhaps we should consider something closer to “home” for our characters, the Colosseum. it was agreed and written into the script.
Storyboarding commenced immediately and the first concept from lead storyboard artist Don Sciore was approved by all parties and work could begin.
Rhythm & Hues was contracted to supervise the production of the miniature plates that would be required for the sequence. They subcontracted the task of the model construction to Livingstong/Schneider and Associates who began the pre-production phase with us, building a scale maquette of the colosseum first out of foam core and later out of plastic. The maquettes were useful for discussions and planning for the construction, camera angles, and the eventual destruction of the monument.
While in rome, the survey team (consisting of Phillip Moses, James Kalivas and me) took measurements of the actual Colosseum. We used a Zeiss Rec-Elta 500 to survey more than 500 discreet data points on the structure. Once the measurements were taken they were fed into a computer database system and correlated to a hand drawn layout of the building. This enabled us to know the exact dimensions of the actual structure we would later duplicate in scale.
I also took hundreds of photos of the Colosseum for reference of scale, texture, and structural details for later use by the model team.
Over a period of 2 months the team at Livingstong/Schneider and Associates designed and constructed the 4000+ parts that made up the Colliseum. They were fabricated at the shop, loaded into semi’s and then finally assembled for the first time on the sound stage.
Once assembled, the structure was painstakingly detailed and painted. a team of set designers and painters went over every piece, both from the front and behind since it would revealing all angles during the destruction. final touchups were being completed right up until the model was armed for destruction.
Once all the cameras were rolling, it was time to flip the switch. the colosseum came down as planned, at least on take 2! [141k QuickTime Movie]