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Setting the Scene
A Michigan parking lot was used as a stand-in for a car dealership, and a fire was lit on set so Into the Storm's actors could picture the so-called firenado. ''It's a real phenomenon,'' says director Steven Quale. ''I found a VHS video [of one] that we brought to the VFX team and said, 'We need to match this exactly.'''
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No Church, No Problem
The script called for the characters to attempt to ride out the storm in a nearby church. But when scouting locations, Quale couldn't find one close enough to a parking lot. The steeple was added digitally along with those trees (and millions of individually blowing leaves).
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Quale used animation to play around with the placement of the tornadoes and the potential projectiles in the characters' paths. After trying out a couple of variations, he decided that ''cars flipped in the air seemed the most dynamic.''
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Feel the Burn
With the firenado's final rendering in place, the entire image was darkened with a ''haze effect'' to represent rain. To make the blaze look realistic, Quale also added a glow to the front of the church and sidewalk and whipped those digital trees into a funnel-cloud-fueled frenzy.