Very early in preproduction on THE THING John was searching for unusual techniques to capture the wave motion of, lets say, tentacles and the like. He wanted to be able to vary camera speed by quickly whipping the motor back and forth over a wide range of something like 10 to 300 frames per second ( fast to slow ) by way of a remote box that he would control. In another example of tapping resources the studio had on offer, Universal's camera department teamed up with the Panavision Corporation to build an experimental camera with this capability. A special high torque motor was built that could withstand the tremendous swings, but the sticking point became the large, gradated, neutral density filter that was designed to rotate in front of the lens as the speed changed in order to keep exposure constant and prevent telltale white flashes. Several tests were made, and although the effect looked great in small stretches there was always an overexposed frame or two that gave the game away. Finally considered too unreliable for our use the camera was reluctantly abandoned, although I understand it had a brief shelf life in commercials...
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
From my incomplete notes made at the time: John gave some initial consideration to Isaac Hayes, having just worked together in ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK ( John also did the same with Lee Van Cleef for the role of Garry ). Geoffrey Holder's availability was checked very early on. Carl Weathers and Bernie Casey met and read, but it was Ernie Hudson who had the inside track until late in the process and was on the way to being cast when we met Keith...