The cliffhanger finale to the first season of Wynonna Earp was the wildest ride ever. We hope you’re as excited as we are about the Season 2 opening episode airing this Saturday on Space.
For us at Bleeding Art Industries Episode 13 was the culmination of a huge amount of demanding but satisfying work. Behind the scenes in special effects we created: pyrotechnics for the Doc / Bobo explosion (test video here); element effects for the computer generated slithery creature called “the Old One”; facial prosthetics for BoBo; dozens of extras foaming at the mouth (see video test here – big yuck factor); rocking Purgatory’s gates; and more. We had our hands full, managing all of it with the precise timing necessary for a successful final shoot – and shoot-out.
Although the big ending was scripted, there were still a lot of unanswered questions for us on the effects side, specifically: what would be computer generated and what would be practical? With pressing deadlines and budget issues, much of the detailed work was relegated to post digital effects.
Leaving room for last minute decisions, our efforts went into trying to shoot as many practical components against green screen as possible, thereby allowing any post digital effects to be added to the practical effects later. The shooting environment was changing by the minute. In Calgary the winter of 2016 was one of the warmest on record with a snowfall two weeks prior to seeing double digit temperatures. We started with a good snow pack, most of which melted on the first day of the shoot. The continuity of the wintry look we were already well into melted before our eyes, along with the special effects budget. Much time was spent recreating winter by harvesting real snow from the few remaining snowy places near the location.
In the script, “The Old One” was supposed to have serpentine tentacles that would burst forth from the ground, chasing and reaching for our main characters. Leo, the Special Effects Supervisor, was advocating for the use of puppeted inflatables that could have then been CG’d over top. However, there was resistance to that notion and the timelines were just becoming too tight to do a proof of concept. The one remnant of this idea can be seen in our tests here showing the creature breaking through the snow. We were disappointed there was no time to make this real. In the end, fake paper snow replaced the real stuff (as seen in the test videos) and made for a much better effect as it lightened up the weight on the smoke/fog dispersal tubes buried underneath. This test was the only portion of the puppet that made it to screen.
Another early version of the script had the ground shaking, causing the border crossing gates to move. We spent some time arranging for mechanics to be placed in the gate to sell the idea that the creature was shaking the earth. In the episode aired this effect was only seen once, but it did add an element of realism and detail that pushed the overall danger of the environment to a higher level.
Wrapping up today’s blog with a fun moment – seen here, our on set FX technican Josiah captured a slow motion video from a scene earlier on in this episode of Doc (Tim Rozon) standing in front of the doors at Shorty’s Saloon as two revenants are tossed, first out one window and then the other by a now very powerful Dolls (Shamier Anderson). Kudos to Steve McMichael’s stunt team for such a stunning breakthrough with so little room. This building front is actually a false front placed in front of another building, which left only a few feet for the stunt guys to wind up before racing through the breakaways.
We hope you have enjoyed our peek behind the scenes at Wynnona Earp’s special effects and prosthetics for Season One. We’ll be posting again soon – all about the cool practical special effects we created for the first episode of Season 2.
This blog has been edited from when it was first posted in June 2016.