Focus On Emmy
August 13, 2012

Focus On Emmy

A look at the nominees for Outstanding Special Visual Effects in a Supporting Role.
Recently, nominees for the 2012 Emmy Awards were revealed. Soon judging will take place, culminating September 15 with the Creative Arts Awards and ball and the September 23 telecast and Governors Ball. 

Here we look at the projects vying for the Emmy in the Outstanding Visual Effects in a Supporting Role category.

“Boardwalk Empire” Season 2, Episode 10
 November 27, 2011
“Georgia Peaches”
Director: Jeremy Podeswa
Visual Effects: Brainstorm Digital

Dave Taritero, VFX Supervisor; Robert Stromberg, VFX Designer; Richard Friedlander, VFX Producer; Eran Dinur, VFX Supervisor; David W. Reynolds, Compositing Supervisor; Matthew Conner, Digital Matte Painter; Austin Meyers, Digital Compositor; Jonathan Dorfman, 3D Artist; Steve Kirshoff, Special Effects Supervisor

The actors are real in the shots that take place at a Hoboken Port circa 1920, but filming happened in the Brooklyn Navy Yards. Much of the environment surrounding the actors is digital, created by Brainstorm Digital artists with background paintings, 2.5 matte paintings projected onto geometry, and full 3D models in the foreground to accommodate the camera moves. To populate a 3D ship, the crew composited workers filmed against greenscreen. The artists also extended the famous, 250-foot boardwalk adding shops and massive hotels that no longer exist to footage of a set filmed on a back lot in Brooklyn. As before, compositors inserted people filmed against greenscreen to fill in the crowds during a riot. “The 3D tracking was especially difficult,” Friedlander says. “To create the excitement of a riot, they had the camera on a technocrane, continuously swinging over the actors and constantly moving up, down, and around.”

“Bones” Season 7, Episode 5
December 8, 2011
“The Twist In The Twister”
FOX, 20th Century Fox Television, Josephson Entertainment, Far Field Productions Director: Jeannot Szwarc
Visual Effects: LOOK! Effects

Christian Cardona, Visual Effects Supervisor; Andy Simonson, Visual Effects Producer; Buddy Gheen, Compositor; Beau Janzen, 3D Artist; Ulysses Argetta, Compositor; Heather Fetter, Compositor

The plot involves the death of a storm chaser and the primary suspects are also tornado chasers. At one point, the action moves to tornado alley with a storm brewing. A tornado forms in the background, churns forward, destroys a barn and windmill and sends the blades of the windmill flying towards our hero. LOOK’s artists working in Autodesk’s Maya created the funnel cloud, a layer of debris inside, and debris on the edges. Modelers built a barn, structured to pull apart during the story. The 3D department also animated the twister, barn elements, and the windmill. Working in After Effects, with some Nuke plug-ins, the compositors pulled it all together and the studio sent it along to the network for DI.

“The Borgias” Season 2, Episode 5
May 6, 2012
“The Choice”  
Director: Kari Skogland
Visual Effects: SPINVFX

Doug Campbell, Visual Effects Supervisor; Bill Halliday, Visual Effects Producer; Luke Groves, Visual Effects Technical Producer; Kirk Brillon, Compositing Supervisor; Steve Ramone Gordon, Compositing Lead; Jim Maxwell, Matte Painter Supervisor; Irit Hod, CG Lighting Lead; Tim Sibley, FX Supervisor; Adam Jewett, Visual Effects Production Manager

The episode opens with a long crane shot that tilts down from the ceiling of St. Peter’s Basilica, a physical 18-foot-tall set. A digital model, 3D tracked and positioned with help from a 3D Lidar scan, extended the set above practical walls and into the ceiling. For an establishing shot outside the Basilica during a fierce storm, Spin artists built a period CG model of the Basilica, St. Peter’s Square and the surrounding buildings. Layered fluid and particle simulations splashed the digital rain on CG surfaces. Fluid and particle simulations also generated debris caused when the Basilica ceiling is blown apart and collapses during a fully CG shot. A digital blade made the prop used to kill Giovanni Sforza, one of the show’s leading characters, look real. To give the wealthy city of Florence its powerful scale, the CG crew at Spin extended the onset streets with large, meticulously researched, period models, and populated the streets with Massive crowds.  

“Breaking Bad” Season 4, Episode 13
October 9, 2011
“Face Off”
Director: Vince Gilligan
Visual Effects: Velocity Visuals

William Powloski, Visual Effects Supervisor-Producer; Greg Nicotero, Special Makeup Effects Designer; Bruce Branit, CGI Supervisor; Werner Hahnlein, Special Effects Coordinator

After an explosion in a nursing home, the antagonist walks out seemingly unharmed. Until the camera swings around to reveal half his face is missing. And, he drops dead. The explosion was practical, shot on location in two takes, one with a locked-off camera, and another with the camera unlocked for a close-up. Compositors created the illusion of an uninterrupted moving shot by compositing debris from the explosion into the close-up. The actor wore a prosthetic that CG artists, working with the live action footage, augmented and carved. Animators added steam from the wound, a dangling jawbone, and extraocular muscles trying to move a missing eyeball. Velocity Visuals special effects artists also blew up a methamphetamine “superlab’ using white gas that they “floated” on a light coat of water, which caused the fire to race across a floor without damaging it. 

“Hemingway & Gellhorn” TV movie
May 28, 2012 
Director: Philip Kaufman
Visual Effects: Tippett Studio

Chris Morley, Visual Effects Supervisor; Kip Larsen, Visual Effects Producer; Nathan Abbot, Compositing Supervisor; Chris Paizis, Matchmove Supervisor

Morley, Kaufman and the stock footage editor spent more than a year before principal photography started searching through hundreds of hours of archival footage spanning from the late 1930's Spanish Civil War to the WWII footage of the 1940s. That footage would enhance the scenes in which Hemingway and his third wife, Martha, travel around the world the world to document wars. The director shot the film in the San Francisco Bay Area; Tippett Studio artists altered the footage to create locations in Key West (Florida), Spain, Cuba, Finland, China, New York, England, Germany, and France. “We would find interesting footage into which we could nest our characters,” Morley says. The artists calculated the camera angles, shot actors on greenscreen, and composited them into the archival footage, adding dust, scratches and so forth to retain the archival look. 

“Touch” Season 2, Episode 1,
January 25, 2012
Director: Francis Lawrence
Visual Effects: Stargate Studios

Tony Pirzadeh, VFX Producer; Mark Spatny, VFX Supervisor; Nicole Zabala, VFX Coordinator; Christopher D. Martin, Lead Digital Compositor; Kristin Johnson, Lead Matte-Painter; Whitman Lindstrom, Matte Painter; Diego Galtieri, Digital Compositor; Meliza Fermin, Digital Compositor; Anthony Ocampo, 3D Artist

“Touch” is the story of how people’s lives all over the world connect in unexpected and sometimes mysterious ways. Each episode follows three or four characters in different cities around the globe. The pilot was filmed entirely on location in Los Angeles, so the job of the visual effects team was to use digital set extensions and virtual backlot techniques to turn those Southern California locations into such diverse settings as London, Tokyo, Dublin, Baghdad, Brooklyn, the top of a cell phone tower in New Jersey, and even the main concourse of Grand Central Terminal in New York City. As the series unfolds, the VFX team continues to take the audience on a weekly world tour to such exotic locales as Bora Bora, Mumbai, and the International Space Station. This Emmy nomination is the third for Stargate Studios this year.