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Scenestealer: ‘Elizabeth: The Golden Age’

In “Elizabeth: The Golden Age,” director Shekhar Kapur wanted a single scene to symbolize the pale queen’s triumphant transformation during the chaos of war. His vision: “Smoke, embers and fire everywhere, and a white horse jumping overboard,” says Moving Picture Co. visual effects supervisor Richard Stammers. Kapur ordered the effects crew to conjure what became “Elizabeth’s” signature shot, a terrified stallion leaping overboard after British fire ships set Spanish galleons ablaze. "[Kapur] called this shot ‘Purity in Hell,’ ” Stammers says. The evocative shot took a month from concept to final composite. As Stammers says: “We told as much as we could afford to tell.”

-- Ron Magid

TWO FOR ONE: The ship’s starboard side was dressed as an English man-of-war and the port side as a Spanish galleon. Effects maestro Joss Williams rigged explosive pyrotechnics on the Armada side while stuntmen clung to masts on the other. (Universal Studios)
HORSE LATITUDE: Using fake firelight, animal trainers guided a white steed to leap over a bar (a stand-in for the ship’s handrail), as the camera ripped at 150 frames per second, creating the heightened drama of slow motion. (Universal Studios)
PRESTO: Slo-mo footage of the horse was combined with shots of the blazing deck, and an inferno darkened with digital smoke. Against that dark, brooding palette, the white charger seems to leap off the screen. (Universal Studios)