In the film Broken Arrow, a nuclear weapon is set off underground in an abandoned mine.

Here is the scene:

I'm interested in two points in this clip:

First at 0:33, you can see the ground sink as it falls into the mine shaft. (I'm not worried about the explosion - that looks like a typical petrol & explosives set up. It's the ground falling in that interests me.)

Then at 0:55, you can see the ground rippling and moving as it comes up behind and under the Jeep.

The first one looks quite realistic - as if they really did set off explosives underground.

The second also looks realistic, but could be a miniature or CGI.

Is there any information on how those effects were achieved? Did they actually set off a big underground explosion, or was it miniatures and standard small blasts?

  • I am assuming it is one big one.
    – natural
    May 18, 2017 at 3:08
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    For the above answer, the CGI ripples/crater were made by Metrolight Studios. At the end credits of the movie Broken Arrow is every single listing of miniature and CGI/Special effect and animations studios that made each type to include combos of each. The company that did the miniature Hummer/ripple is also listed at the end. Each type of special effect was listed to include the company that did the rotor blades on the helicopter. Lots of miniatures, stills, animations, CGI were used in this film and all companies involved were listed at the end credits. Sep 9, 2017 at 8:55

2 Answers 2


Not really an answer, just a partial:

Supporting the ripple with the Humvee being a miniature, is that the humvee prop went up for auction:

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I'm interested in two points in this clip:

The first one looks quite realistic - as if they really did set off explosives underground.

The second also looks realistic, but could be a miniature or CGI.

So, for

OP's point 1, it could be CG if the studio attributed to it is correct (re. comment by Pauline Demetry), as they were known for their CG work; and

OP's point 2, it does seem to be miniature work.


The initial ground sink (circular) after the explosion sets off is clearly CGI. Usually production teams would have wanted more shots if the ground sink was really made. Instead, the sink is shown just in 2 shots, Once as the blast goes off (covered with dust) and the other time from an eagle eye view for a brief 2 seconds each.

The EMP PULSE thus generated gives rise to a ripple, is not CGI The rippling ground effect is not something new. I believe the ground tremor pulse has previously been used in the movie 'Tremors' (1990). It is possible to setup the ground with loose sands and grass, and a chain to drag from under the sand. I say this because, the shot was not shown wide-angle, nor the arch-angle of a shockwave was shown from the eagle view. You can notice that, as the pulse approaches the jeep from behind, the jeep is empty with dummies and it's nothing but a skeleton model of the jeep. But no miniatures seems to be used.

  • Do you have any sources from filmmakers that this was actually the technique that was used on this film? You're giving information as to what you believe how the scene was created and explaining possibilities, but no sources as to how this particular scene was shot for this particular movie :) May 19, 2017 at 15:37
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    @Tim One basis is simply looking at the shot. I don't know how anybody could look at that and not instantly tell iit's CGI.
    – Brady Gilg
    Jan 8, 2020 at 20:41
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    @Tim CGI and miniature shots look substantially different from one another. You can easily see the computer generated artifacts in the scene.
    – Brady Gilg
    Jan 9, 2020 at 21:43
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    @Tim It's the incredibly unrealistic look that makes it painfully obvious that it's 90's level CGI.
    – Brady Gilg
    Jan 9, 2020 at 21:47
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    @BradyGilg You're entitled to your opinion. However, simply looking at the shot isn't enough. I asked for sources, and proof of how it was done.
    – Tim
    Jan 9, 2020 at 21:55

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