Die Another Day | The £500,000 of R&D spent on its 3D wave

Die Another Day
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James Bond movie Die Another Day used CG for a key effect in the movie – and director Lee Tamahori has been reflecting on it.

Die Another Day, released in 2002, was the 20th James Bond film, the final outing in the tuxedo for Pierce Brosnan, and a massive hit at the time. A rare 007 outing directed by a non-British filmmaker, Lee Tamahori, its opening in particular strongly hinted at the darker direction that James Bond would take in the years ahead.

But also, the movie is known for some of its less realistic-feeling moments. There’s the invisible car of course, which is explained in the film and has its basis in actual technology, but still feels daft. And then there’s the moment where Bond goes very CG.

Lee Tamahori joined the SpyHards podcast just before Christmas, and I’ve just caught up with the episode now. It’s a really interesting chat too, taking in not just his work on James Bond, but his time directing the sequel xXx: The Next Level as well.

He specifically takes time out in the discussion to address the part of Die Another Day where the stunt performers took a break, as CG was brought in to realise a key sequence. To this day, it’s a heavily criticised part of the movie, not least by Tamahori himself.

In what’s become known as the ‘tsunami surfing’ moment, we see Pierce Brosnan’s James Bond making an escape. And, well, it looks like this…

The film, as all Bond movies do, employed a lot of stunt work, including cars chasing across ice. But for this particular part of the movie, they went the other way and tried to see what a computer could do.

Tamahori told the podcast that, “we spent £500,000, upwards on R&D with some entity that was specifically doing [this sort of] work…”

“We were working from scratch”, he said of basically animating and creating 3D water. “The only thing that had been made to that point was The Perfect Storm I think. Water was enormously difficult because of the volume and the movement you had to do. There was a whole lot of physics involved. It was beyond me. I knew the complications and difficulties of it. But we spent a lot of money on R&D … to make a 3D wave.”

Later in the podcast, Tamahori reflects pride looking back at the film, noting that the effects in particular haven’t aged well, but that the rest of the movie stands up. I still think too that the first half of the film is terrific, and we explored it in a Film Stories podcast episode here.

However, the full chat with Lee Tamahori over at SpyHards runs to nearly two hours. It’s really interesting too, and you can find it below these very words…

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