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Falcon Frees Willy
Helping Free Willy in the fourth remake of the film is a strong-swimming Falcon.

With the world-famous Willy strapped to its back, the small Saab Seaeye Falcon ROV used its five powerful thrusters and intelligent electronics to give Willy the wriggle he needs to swim free.

Filmed in South Africa, the realistic swimming motion was cleverly recreated through the precise fingertip control of the Falcon by ROV pilots Nick Stroud and Josh Smit of Marine Solutions.

Falcon - compact, powerful and manoeuvrable


The biggest challenge, according to Marine Solutions director, Kevin Bey-Leveld, was to make the Orca whale, with its large body, look like it really was swimming along.

The success of the project, says Kevin Bey-Leveld, helped keep down the cost of filming.

“The way the Falcon flies, combined with trained ROV pilots, allowed the director to film the sequences in a relatively short space of time, in terms of normal filming,” he explains.

Although small and compact, the Falcon was powerful enough to manoeuvre in both swimming pool and the open ocean - the trick, explained Kevin Bey-Leveld, was to balance the buoyancy to compensate between sea water and fresh water.


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Falcon - compact, powerful and manoeuvrable
Saab Seaeye Falcon - compact, powerful and manoeuvrable

Putting the bite into Bollywood
For a shark to eat an actor gently, takes five brushless DC thrusters with velocity feedback for precise and rapid control in all directions.

When the Bollywood movie, 'LUCK', was filmed in South Africa, a Saab Seaeye Falcon ROV was strapped beneath a giant 4.2 metre long Latex and Polyurethane replica of a tiger shark and then sent to eat luckless victims trying to escape a sinking container.

The realistic swimming motion of the shark and its violent attack can be realistically recreated, thanks to skilful and precise fingertip control of the Falcon by the ROV pilots Steve Wilkinson and Nicolas Stroud of Marine Solutions.

Falcon - compact, powerful and manoeuvrable


Although small and compact, the Falcon is powerful enough to manoeuvre the 400Kg model in both swimming pool and the open ocean - the tricky bit being to balance the buoyancy for compensating between sea water and fresh water.

This is not the first time the Falcon and shark have starred together. Owned by the South African special effects company CFX, the shark, has worked on many projects with the ROV, operated by Cape Town based Marine Solutions who specialises in the sales, rental, repairs, maintenance and technical support of underwater systems.

The world-wide success of the Falcon ROV, sees it starring across a range of industries , including oil and gas, defence, marine science, underwater tourism - and now the movies.

Its success comes from ease of handling in hostile environmental conditions and holding steady in strong cross currents. Its distributed intelligence control system also allows up to 128 devices to be connected together on a single RS 485 serial network.

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Falcon - compact, powerful and manoeuvrable
Saab Seaeye Falcon - compact, powerful and manoeuvrable