John Frazier, the 11-time Oscar nominee and one-time winner for special effects, has revealed the secrets of how stunt crews launch vehicles into the air for impressive stunt scenes in Hollywood movies. Action films, like those in the Fast & The Furious franchise, have constantly pushing the envelope and Frazier went in-depth on how mechanics flip cars for fiery explosions and the like.
Frazier, who won the Academy Award for his work on Spider-Man 2, has worked as special effects supervisor on over 100 movies and has his own shop in Los Angeles, FXperts Inc, famed for its pneumatic car flipper.
The machine is essentially a heavy steel plate attached to a steel lever with hydraulic bottled nitrogen gas. It can flip vehicles up to 20 feet in altitude.
“We sometimes have to weld in a 1/8th-inch steel plate under the unibody cars,” Frazier explained, “We don’t always have heavy, full-frame cars to flip anymore. But the plate is usually enough to keep the flipper from going through the floorboard.”
Frazier built his first “flipper” for production on Michael Bay’s Armageddon after the SFX crew needed to stage car stunts quickly and cost efficiently. His shop now has two-dozen of the machines available for Hollywood studios to rent for their movies.
Last year, Frazier worked on two huge grossing movies: Bay’s Transformers: Age of Extinction, which took $1 billion worldwide, and The Amazing Spider-Man, which took £700 million. His next work will be seen in St. Sebastian, a post-apocalyptic thriller set in Russia directed by Danny DeVito and starring William Fichtner, Lance Reddick and Constance Zimmer.
Frazier has actually appeared in movies himself and played a train engineer in Hancock, Peter Berg’s 2008 action-romp starring Will Smith.