‘Find a Better Way’
Toyota wanted their new car safety technologies to be translated to the cricket field for their sponsorship of England Cricket. Our task was to create a ‘Cricket Box Airbag’ and ‘Rear-View Wicket Camera’.
The airbag is a crotch saving measure that deploys to save the batsman from a painful altercation with the ball. The rear-view wicket cam prop is a helmet attachment for the batsman to position himself correctly in front of the stumps without the help of the umpire.
HOW WE DID IT
Vehicles use compressed nitrogen to inflate an airbag in the event of a crash. Building a similar system would be costly and not appropriate as it would have limited flexibility, control, and called for lengthy reset times. Designing a special effect prop such as this needs a clear understanding of visual requirements and the practicalities of location filming. The airbag had to deploy as the ball was bowled in, getting the timing right would be tricky so it was essential we designed a rig that was quick to reset.
We constructed our own airbag from waterproof nylon fabric. The airbag had a 100mm diameter tube which passed between the actor’s legs to a centrifugal fan. From our tests, we knew the fan had to already be running to ensure the airbag inflated fast enough. This led to the fabrication of a bespoke release mechanism. For each take, the airbag was carefully folded into a pouch sewn into the front of the actor’s trousers and secured with magnets. The release mechanism was clamped onto the connecting tube and triggered by pulling on a length of fishing line.
The result was a safe, repeatable effect, and with some simple post-production to remove the back tube and centrifugal fan, we were able to create a truly convincing effect.