The end of the (known) world doesn't come easily, even when Roland Emmerich is involved. 2012 required 1300 effects shots, and Popular Mechanics followed the fifteen-shot process in making just minutes of disaster happen smoothly.
It's a sad state of affairs that, even with all the work effects company Uncharted Territory put into the three-minute sequence that PM traces from storyboard to finished shot, the part that amused us the most was what Emmerich had to do with the real life actors:
As animators molded the virtual city, Emmerich was filming his actors in front of a blue screen. He put the actors on a "shaky floor," an 8000-square-foot steel platform on airbags. Special-effects coordinators jiggled the bags with pneumatic pumps to inspire authentic reactions from the actors. "It was the most complicated scene we created," Emmerich says. "And it's one of my favorites."
"Shaky floor"? Oh, John Cusack, what has become of your career?
The Anatomy of a Disaster Scene in the Movie 2012 [Popular Mechanics]