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Local 12 Weatherman Loves The Wizard of Oz
A Local 12 Meteorologist has scientific love for a classic movie.
The Wizard of Oz, according to John Gumm, has the most realistic tornado scene of any Hollywood movie.
Even up against modern animation, Dorothys swirling adventure inside a twister filmed in 1938 ranks #1 in Gumms book.
According to stormtrack.org, the tornado scene was initially budgeted only $8,000 by MGM. Special effects coordinator, Arnold Gillespie, built a thirty-five foot tapered muslin sock with music wire inside. The top of it was attached to a steel, moveable crane specifically built for the movie. The bottom of the tornado dipped down into a slot in the floor of the stage. A rod that ran the height of the muslin, sock tornado moved it from side to side. This, along with the crane, made the tornado appear to shake back and forth.
A brown dust was sprayed from the bottom and top of the tornado using compressed air to imitate a massive dirt cloud. Because the muslin was porous the dirt could sift back and forth through the fabric giving the edges of the tornado a softer look.
Wind machines, mirrors, tripods, and other flying debris all came together with the muslin sock tornado to finish off the twister effect.
The tornado scene in The Wizard of Oz ended up costing MGM more money than any other special effect in the entire movie.