Thursday 20th July. 2.00 PM – ‘H’ Stage, Shepperton Studios. The Ark Royal cabin has gone and we are now back aboard the Tyger as we introduce Raleigh to the movie.
We find the Tyger as she returns from the New World and the English coast appears before her. This is a chance for Raleigh to show the world what his men are made off and he orders a volley of salute fired to announce his arrival. Of course on a sound stage firing a broadside of cannons isn’t as simple as it sounds. Firstly the cannon crews have to be trained in Tudor gun drill and then this action has to be seamlessly synchronised with a camera tracking on a crane down the side of the ship whilst the ship rolls on its hydraulic rams and the pyrotechnic charges fire at the same time that the weigh drops lurch the carriages back to simulate the recoil. All this also has to happen against a blue-screen background as the sea and coast will be added by computer graphics later and in temperatures on the sound stage around 100F.
Needless to say it requires a few takes as cannon don’t always fire in the right order and on one occasion one cannon recoiled before it had fired. The crews also have to hang on to the carriages for dear life as the ship lurches to the side and they try to roll back from their gunports. However, after a long, hot and smoky morning we finally have a spectacular introduction for Raleigh as he stands on the prow of the Tyger and a full broadside salute fires behind him.