Scene Stealer: ‘Changeling’s’ vintage autos

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Though the production crew of ‘Changeling’ used some digital effects to make Los Angeles look like it did in 1928, one thing that didn’t need faking was the traffic. According to production designer James J. Murakami, 150 vintage cars from 1918 to 1928 were gathered from collectors all over Southern California for the film. ‘A lot of time, the cars would be too clean or all cherried out,’ Murakami said. To fix that, the set painter came up with a kind of carwash in reverse, taking the pristine vehicles and giving them the look of cars used daily with a spritz. ‘He’d mix dust in with water and spray it on,’ Murakami said. ‘It gives a nice even coat of dirt. Or sometimes we’d run water over them to leave little streaks.’ To further age some cars, a washable coating was applied to simulate rust and scratches. Much to the relief of the jittery collectors, the cars were always washed back to their original state.

-- Patrick Kevin Day