Driving through a tornado: “tornado chaser 3d

As of today, 24. November 2011 the audience of the Verkehrshaus Filmtheater in Lucerne accompanies the famous storm chaser Sean Casey on a breathtaking expedition. Filmed in 3D from a seven-ton special vehicle, he shows tornadoes from previously unseen perspectives. The unique documentary film "Tornado Hunter 3D" is presented on the largest movie screen in Switzerland.

Thanks to the TIV (Tornado Interceptive Vehicle), a specially designed truck that can withstand even tornadoes, Sean Casey is able to take pictures in the heart of the storm. The visitor experiences in 3D one of the most fascinating and at the same time most dramatic natural spectacles very closely. "Tornado Hunters 3D" takes moviegoers right into the eye of the storm. For the shoot, filmmaker Sean Casey built the TIV (Tornado Interceptive Vehicle), a tank-like vehicle designed to provide protection for the movie camera and film crew from the forces of nature. Next to the license plate of director Casey’s TIV2 is a notice: "Do not follow in bad weather". And this should really be strictly followed. Because Sean Casey and his team are tornado hunters, always trying to get inside the storm to capture spectacular footage and learn more about these storms. Seventy days a year, Sean Casey and his team say they are on a tornado hunt – this past tornado season, they encountered one of the destructive twisters twenty-five times. Twice they managed to penetrate the interior.

Driving through a tornado: "tornado chaser 3d

How does a tornado form?

The formation of a tornado is very complex. And even today, not all open questions have been resolved. Tornadoes form on every continent except Antarctica and are observed wherever there are thunderstorms or weather patterns with high severe weather potential. In the U.S. alone, about 1200 tornadoes are recorded each year. Most of them, about 500 to 600 per year, occur in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, South Dakota and Nebraska along what is known as "Tornado Alley," which is the focus of the current film. In contrast, the annual number of tornado observations in Europe is 170, with an estimated 300 tornadoes if an unreported number is included.

The duration of a tornado can last from a few seconds to more than an hour, but on average it is less than ten minutes. The forward motion of a tornado is on average about 50 km/h, but it can also be much lower or even over 100 km/h. The rotation speed of the wind inside the tornado, however, is usually much higher.

TIV2 – Tornado Interceptive Vehicle 2

The basis of the special vehicle used by director Casey is a Dodge Ram 3500. It is considered one of the strongest heavy-duty trucks ever. The seven-ton vehicle has an extraordinarily sluggish appearance thanks to additional exterior cladding with armor plates. In reality, however, the armored car is extremely maneuverable and nimble on the road at up to 160 km/h. Armor panels consist of six layers: Aluminum, steel, rubber, polycarbonate, and Kevlar alternate. The windshield is made of polycarbonate. All these materials and the construction method are to protect against projectiles swirling around in the tornado center. But if a tree trunk hits the windshield head-on at wind speeds of up to 240 km/h, even the special equipment doesn’t stand a chance, according to director Casey. On their tours, he and his team rely on the driving skills of Navy veteran Marcus Gutierrez, who can also intervene in other emergencies, thanks to special medical training.

Driving through a tornado: "tornado chaser 3d

The protective shields of the TIV2 can be moved into different positions with the help of a hydraulic actuator. This protects above all against dangerous air currents that could turn the vehicle itself into a projectile. In addition, approximately one meter long spikes anchor the TIV2 as firmly as possible in the ground, if necessary. Casey built the observation dome and mount for the most important "passenger" in the car – the one-meter-wide 70mm camera – himself. Among other things, old oxygen tanks from the Second World War and skateboard wheels were used here. Above all, it was important to make the structure as flexible as possible to allow recording on uneven terrain.

Driving through a tornado: "tornado chaser 3d

Vortex2 with research goal "early detection"

"Vortex2 is a research program that focuses on the formation and early detection of tornadoes. Involved are over 100 weather researchers from all over the world. The result of this impressive and sometimes stormy film work is presented daily at the Verkehrshaus Filmtheater from 24. November 2011. The movie theater has the largest 3D screen in Switzerland and the 3D big screen projection system, which is unique in Europe, offers a three-dimensional image that can only be surpassed by reality. The film offers a storm-tested documentary experience that introduces viewers to the phenomenon of winds and their exploration.

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