Welcome to this week’s behind the scenes blog showcasing the special effects and prosthetics for Space network’s latest comic book series Wynonna Earp. Ever since the show aired on April 1st, we’ve been lifting the veil to show you how some of these effects have been done, taking you into the Bleeding Art Industries shop where the testing and fabricating happened. By this point in the shooting of the production, we were finding our feet. The “early days blur” of getting things moving was beginning to clear and now we were seeing our way with both the back story and where we were headed for the mechanical special effects.
In a previous episode we saw Levi (played by our friend and local actor Christian Goutsis) hauled across the Ghost River Triangle boundary and left to suffer chained to a torture device. Revenants like Levi endure the pain of hell crossing the boundary and that is what stops them from spreading across the globe. For this we had done some smoking demon tests (testing video here).
Levi in this episode chews off his leg to escape the pain and drags himself back toward sanctuary to be found by his fellow revenant and partner played by Tyrell Crews. The original intention was to shoot a very clear visual of the gnawing off of the leg. We did not have access to the performer so we used a leg that matched him in size and scale from our archive of body parts. We started with a leg that could be ripped apart, then to one that was hollowed out and filled with rice paper that could be eaten. Our FX technician felt queasy as he watched the goo-drenched skin being ripped and spat out. In the final shooting, director Paolo Barzman felt that too much gore may be distracting to the portrayal of the character’s pain, so Levi chewing off his leg was cut. We love the realism factor, so we were pleased that we got our gruesome leg on set. The skin texture of the leg had to match the fantastic facial work of Joanne Jacobsen and Gunther Schetterer which was developing in the make-up trailer. These photos also served as a reference point for everyone as to where the look was heading.
Also in this episode was a torture scene where Wynonna visits Vinnie (played by Josh Bertwistle, another talented Calgary-based actor) to extract some information. Here are some tests and photos we did for the fish hook through the fingernail. The video of the tests can be found here where we would show the piercing of the finger. If you watch carefully you will see that this finger is one of the extras from an earlier episode in which Red bites off a female finger. This video was for proof of concept and was an expedient use of materials as the actual digit to be used was a thumb. Below are photos of the look of the aftermath. The idea was that once through the finger, the scene could be carried on with the impalement. In fact there was further scripting in which Wynonna rigs up string into the hook to use Vinnie as a puppet, but that was cut in subsequent revisions. Also included is a reveal of the effect showing how the hook was able to take the weight when strung up. It’s all an illusion through the magic of make-believe.
Finally in this episode, we meet the twins. Constance has Bobo searching for the bones of her boys which have been scattered and hidden across the Ghost River Triangle.
In this photo we see Alyssa’s joy as she has to repaint them for the third time (the paint treatment didn’t do so well in the opening scene when they were tossed into the shot at Wynonna’s feet).
Speaking of the opening scene, we really enjoyed seeing atmospheric effects, camera, and performance come together with sound design in this sequence. The interesting thing to note was that it was pretty much one single long shot of the various components of the “nightmare” scene at the beginning of this episode that made it very effective.
Until next time – leave your comments, follow our blog, and feel free to post and share.
Wynonna Earp Season 1 is currently airing on Space, Saturday nights after Dr. Who. It is also available by clicking here on iTunes. And can be watched on Netflix.