Titanic achievement: underwater film set equipped by Verlinde

26 February 2020


Hoist manufacturer Verlinde has equipped the world’s first underwater film set, at the Lites cinema studio in Belgium.

The studio offers five sets, ranging from 250–1,700 sq m in size. The water stage set, which allows filming of high-quality underwater and surface camera shots, is 24m by 21m, with a 9m-deep tank. It contains up to 5m litres of water in the tank, with an additional 1m litres of water when the floor is flooded. The floor itself is mobile, and can be submerged to different depths, bearing a load of up to 20t, giving a maximum water surface of 1,250 sq m when the set is fully flooded.

To help create the magic of cinema, various natural effects can be employed, including waves up to 1m high, mist, rain, and a sea effect.

The facility required lifting equipment across all five sets, including specialised equipment in the water stage set for lifting décor items such as boats, as well as for lighting, sound systems, cameras and screens.

To equip the underwater set, Verlinde first completed a technical study, finding that the equipment would need to be reliable and practical for all users, able to resist high temperatures—as the water is heated to 30°C—and humidity.

Joris Van de Wiele, Verlinde’s project manager in Belgium, worked with a manufacturer member of the Europont network and proposed two overhead cranes, each weighing 3t and featuring a special black coating to allow the cranes to integrate into the décor of the set; four ceiling suspension points for the mobile floor; four Eurobloc VT3 wire rope hoists with a total lifting capacity of 25t and a bearing surface of 25 sq m. The hoists are fitted with VVF drives for travel and cross-travel lifting, with speed variable from slow to very fast to enable the hoists to stay in sync with the camera.

Across the whole studio set complex, 80 Stagemaker SR5 and S R10 hoists have been installed, with capacities from 250–1,000kg. The hoists feature double brakes, retractable handgrips and protective rubber pads as standard.