Artem Case Studies

In the Heart of the Sea Warner Bros.

Artem created an 18m sperm whale for Ron Howard’s film In the Heart of the Sea, starring Chris Hemsworth, Cillian Murphy and Brendan Gleeson.

The film tells the story of the crew of a whaleship called the Essex, which, in 1820, sunk after being rammed by an enormous sperm whale – a true event which inspired Herman Melville’s classic novel Moby-Dick.

Artem’s main contribution to the film was to make the physical whale itself:  this involved making the whale’s head and body separately, as well as separate flesh and blubber sections for processing on the ship’s deck.

Artem first modelled a maquette (a small scale model) of the whole whale for client approval, which was then 3D scanned. The data fed into the computer system for manipulation and the eventual machining by robot of a pattern, prior to hand finishing, moulding, and casting in a tough polyurethane skin with a foam and fibreglass sub-structure.

Mike Kelt, Artem’s CEO, said: “The whale's severed head, which sat on the ship’s deck, was approximately 6m long by 3m high, and had to be strong enough for some of the ship’s crew to stand on top as well as crawl inside.  The body section of the whale carcass was designed to float in the water alongside the ship.  This involved fitting a complicated buoyancy system, with structural connections, to allow crew members to stand on the carcass while peeling off the blubber layers aided by the rocking of the ship and a cleverly rigged hook.”

As well as the whale’s head and upper carcass, Artem produced sections of whale blubber that could actually be cut and melted down in hot water as part of the action – 10 larger pieces between 10ft and 16ft long, and 50 smaller chunks, each carefully made and injected with fake blood to create the impression of having been cut or hacked from the carcass, and then chopped down into hand sized pieces for melting and extracting the ‘oil’.

Artem’s prosthetics for the film included a severed torso of one of the characters – made from silicone with bone and intestines protruding below – designed to float realistically in water. For one scene, the team also made ‘pull-on protective feet’ to assist the main actors when running over a pebble beach.  

You can see the trailer of the film here.

  • Film
  • CNC Machining & 3D printing
  • Electronic Design
  • Models & Miniatures
  • Props
  • Prosthetics
  • Sculpture
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