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New Zealand Makes a Splash by Opening Horizon Water Tank


Joining only a few of its kind, new horizon water tank is set to attract more film-makers to shoot in New Zealand

New Zealand Makes a Splash by Opening Horizon Water Tank
On 3rd March 2017, Kumeu Film Studio unveils the long-awaited ocean horizon tank just outside of Auckland, New Zealand. The tank will join only a few of its kind around the world, with the others located in Mexico, Dominican Republic, Malta and Australia.  

Horizon water tanks are situated on the coast and allow for a natural, but controlled, environment when it comes to shooting ocean scenes. Safety is always of utmost important in a filming process and by using a tank, crews can ensure a realistic but secure shoot. One of the most famous horizon water tanks is located at Baja Studios in Mexico, originally built for James Cameron’s epic ‘Titanic’ and a backdrop to films including ‘Pearl Harbour’ and ‘Master and Commander’.

On a 27 hectare site just 25 minutes from downtown Auckland, Kumeu hosts a converted warehouse containing a 45,000 sq. ft. stage area, 30-36 feet high. The site also includes workshops, office space, a huge forest backlot, a dive tank and an ocean horizon tank with green screen wall.

Commenting on the benefits this will have for the New Zealand film industry, PSN New Zealand partner, Iris Weber, says: “New Zealand isn’t just a great location, the tanks will add another dimension to our film industry.”

Both horizon and indoor water tanks are rare and it’s useful to work with experienced production partners to ensure the studio will have the necessary requirements for what you want to achieve. What’s more, commercial filmmakers can contain the budgets of their shoots requiring water tanks by choosing to shoot in a country where the rest of their creative brief can be accomplished.  

PSN Partners based around the world provide full shoot support in many of the countries where water tanks are installed.  They’ve contributed to this handy breakdown of some of the world’s water tanks and their specs:


The famous Baja studios are conveniently located one hour from the US border at San Diego and near the airport of Tijuana.

The present complex contains five studios and is built on 46 acres, with more than 3,000 feet of ocean front overlooking the Pacific Ocean near the Mexican resort community of Rosarito, Baja California.

Famous for: Titanic, Pearl Harbour, Tomorrow Never Dies 


Romania is home to five water tanks. One of them is the largest indoor water tank in Eastern Europe – 124x65x16 ft/37,7x19, 7x5m, with a minimum depth of 5 ft /1,5m and a maximum depth of 18 ft/ 5,5m. 

The other one is a little smaller – 65 ft (20m) x 32ft (10m) by 13ft (4m) deep. 

Both are accessible and can be used for underwater filming or special effects. While there are no formal regulations or licenses to use the tanks in Romania, you will need one diver or more on set, depending on the number of people in the water tank. These divers are on hand to ensure safety underwater is never compromised.  

Here’s a look at a commercial shot with PSN Romania that makes use of a local water tank for a Scandinavian Airlines campaign.  


Situated near Dublin, Ardmore Studio’s A Stage houses Ireland's only underwater filming facility. The 8000 ft2 studio houses a 20’ x 24’ x 9’ tank, a separate camera pit, timber floor and cyclorama.

Sky's TV drama Moonfleet, starring Ray Winstone, used the facility for their underwater shoots and the facility was also used as the engine room in Titanic.


There are two water tanks available for use in Germany. Holding 500,000 litres at 4m depth, Studio Babelsberg in Potsdam (Berlin) is  the largest.

Babelsberg also provides 20 other stages including an airplane mock up as well as an extensive metropolitan backlot. 

Famous for: Inglorious Basterds, The Hunger Games, Bourne and many others.

In addition to this, there is also another underwater studio run by Filmyard in Kreuzberg, Berlin.


The UK has three underwater filming facilities, two are housed at the famous Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire and the third at Warner Brother’s studios in Leavesden.

Pinewood studios in the UK is home to Europe's first studio-based, globally unique, permanently filled, underwater filming stage. It is available for all types of surface and underwater filming. Pinewood also houses an exterior tank that has a huge blue/green screen backing measuring 240ft (73.2m) x 60ft (18.3m).

The tank can be used for model units or live action sequences and is conveniently located next to the Pinewood Studios Underwater Stage. The inner tank allows the depth needed for stunts or complex set construction within the tank.

The tank is 66ft x 33ft x 20ft deep (20m x 10m x 6m deep) with a capacity of 1,200,000 Litres.

Pinewood is famous for a huge number of blockbuster films, most recent examples include, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, Star Wars: The Force Awakens and In the Heart of the Sea.

Leavesdon’s tank measures up at 120ft x 90ft x 27ft deep and the studios are most well-known for housing all eight of the Harry Potter films.


Australia has one of the world’s biggest water tanks, 40m x 30m x 5m, located on the Gold Coast at Village Roadshow Studios. Along with the main tank, there are an additional two smaller tanks also available for hire.

The tanks have been used in many of the big budget movies shot on the Gold Coast including The Pirates of the Caribbean movies, Shallows and Fool’s Gold to name a few.


Italy does not have a dedicated underwater filming tank but the Millepini Hotel in Milan hosts the world’s deepest swimming pool (21x18m and a depth of 40m) which is often used by companies for underwater photo shooting (for fashion and other sectors). 

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Genres: Action, In-camera effects

Production Service Network PSN, Thu, 09 Mar 2017 17:55:48 GMT