Body Hits and Blown Off Doors

Last week’s Episode 11 of Wynonna Earp “Gone as a Girl Can Get” took us down a Purgatory rabbit hole where Wynonna didn’t exist. In this alternate reality Waverly is still in the closet but Nicole hopes that she’ll escape before she walks up the aisle with Perry. Bobo is released from the asylum by “his angel” Waverly and all hell is breaking loose at the Earp homestead – now a Revenant clubhouse – with a dark side Doc running the show.  It’s Crazy Town. Earp homestead has been taken over

In this behind the scenes blog we’re going to talk about bullet hits – a practical effect that can be routine or spectacular. Easily the most emotional moment for us this episode was when Doc’s deadly aim hits Dolls and Doc’s look of astonishment and horror when he realizes Dolls isn’t wearing his body armour. Dolls retaliates and Doc receives a fatal shot in return. We’re hoping the alternate reality has temporary consequences.

Dolls gets hit by Doc in an alternate reality

When Dolls is hit, the impact, blood spiral, and body action were epic.  It’s a perfectly choreographed moment.  Here’s what SPFX Supervisor Leo Wieser had to say:

“All things conspired to make the body hit on Dolls visually fantastic. What we had were two “squib” effects placed on actor Shamier Anderson, one for entry and one for exit.  From studying forensics,  we know that a bullet may not just pass through a body in one straight line but may deviate course, bounce off bones, and delay and change the line of the exit.  With this in mind we staggered the timing on the two hits so that as the performer takes the hit, he then pirouettes around and a second hole opens up for the exit wound.

WynonnaEarp_gallery_211Recap_10We knew that this would be slow motion so timing was very tricky so that it didn’t read as a double shot.  We also knew that the consistency of the blood had to have a number of thixotropic qualities (see non Newtonian fluids). What usually happens with stage bloods that are thinned for such use is that the visual becomes what is lovingly referred to in the military as a “Pink Mister”.  Although realistic, this does not read as dramatically on film.  Here we made a special mix of our Bleeding Art Industries bloods with acrylic thickeners to achieve polymerization and to get a stringy ribbon effect.  We used the same mixture in Doc’s back hit, but the spread of multiple devices made more of an explosion of blood and flesh than a water spray.  As the name suggests, a “squib” hit utilizes a pyrotechnic driver to open and push the blood load out and into the air.  This effect is only for advanced and certified pyrotechnicians and should not be attempted without a high degree of experience.

The front doors blowing off the asylum when Bobo makes his dramatic exit, is an effect we worked hard to achieve. The effects was achieved with weighted pulls.  The doors were built to be light weight from wood materials and strung with high strength ropes.  To get the correct angle of trajectory, pully systems were set up to redirect the control point from where the door was calculated to fly.  Here the doors weighed about 30 lbs a piece and we did have to be very careful as to where they ended up as we didn’t want to injure any crew.  Testing of the rig was first done with sandbags, weighted to the same weight as the doors.  This would give us a good idea of strength of operator pull and final resting place of the doors.  When comfortable with the sand bags we went on to testing with the doors.  I have left the section of video intact showing a not so near miss between our operator Keifer and one of the doors.  We pride ourselves on safety and I wanted to show how incredibly important testing is to demonstrate repeatability and practicality of the effects we develop.  Even on the day, we were confident on the landing points of the doors, but we needed to take time to reassure the crews that we could do what we said we were going to do.  We had exact landings every time.

The behind the scenes demo testing can be seen here.

So what happens next? Showrunner Emily Andras talks to Entertainment Weekly about Episode 12, the finale for Season 2:

“It’s going to shake out in a blistering finale. Look, we have a lot of hanging threads that we are very excited to close off. You’re going to get answers on a lot of things you’ve been waiting to find out all season. We’re going to get… let me put it this way: We will get some closure on maybe what Waverly is.”

 “It is really emotionally taxing. I cried twice in the episode — which is pretty unusual for me because I’m very cold-hearted and I already know what’s going to happen. I hope it makes you feel things. At the same time, we now have the privilege of kicking off the new story for season 3. It’s definitely one of my favorite episodes of the year. It’s crazy y’all.  Brace yourselves.”

The final episode of Season 2 of Wynonna Earp airs on Friday, August 25th on Space and Syfy  10 pm ET, 8 pm MT. It is also available on iTunes. At Bleeding Art Industries, WE CREATE COOL. Check out our work @ www.bleedingartindustries.com, our Twisted Tales universe @ www.twistedstories.com, and our products @ www.shopbleedingart.com.

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Whiskey Lullaby or Who’s Your Daddy?

Season 2 Episode 6 – Keeping the actors and crew safe from contact with toxic materials and harmful fumes and smoke during explosions and fires is always our goal. Wynonna’s surprise pregnancy was born of necessity when Melanie Scrofano delivered her happy news to show runner Emily Andras*, so from the start of theWynonna Earp Stone Witch mummy head season the use of non-toxic materials became a top priority. In episode 6, Whiskey Lullaby, there was one specific prop that we spent hours on – the dehydrated head of the stone witch Constance Clooty. Much care was taken to source non-toxic materials for its fabrication.  We started with a plaster skull, added the face molded from paper flour and white glue then applied an acrylic paint finish and cheesecloth hair.  This pic shows the detail of the piece, hauntingly creepy.

Most of our on-set time was spent creating the sleeping ghost town atmosphere. Theatrical fog machines were used strategically to create the gray stillness both inside and outside as well as the reflective haze in the night scene that starts the episode.

Our effects can also be seen when Wynonna boots down the Clockmaker’s mansion door with one well-placed kick. We had carefully set up breakaway hinges on the door and wired it so we could control the movement. It worked well when it flew apart right on cue and we got the shot in one take.

Occasionally we like to return to a previous episode to do a bit of a show and tell on an effect that for various reasons didn’t make it to screen. The original script for Wynonna Earp Season 2 Episode 1 guard faceepisode 1 ended with the widows ripping a security guard’s faceWynonna Earp Season 2 Episode 1 ripped off face inside off and throwing it against a wall. We cast the actor’s face, made a skin from the mold and dressed it with our special BAI slime and blood.  Shooting the scene presented new challenges to exactly replicate the Director’s vision.  Here’s a behind the scenes video of our set technician Keifer having fun testing the face splat and stick; a really good dose of gore we think. You’ll want to watch this video to the very end. It would’ve been interesting to see it incorporated into the episode.

Episode 6’s time-warp sleep-curse plot line fast-forwards Wynonna’s pregnancy by a month or so. There’s no hiding it now and for better or worse Doc and Dolls seem to have revealed their relative responses. Should be interesting to see how this all unfolds in the coming episodes.

*This Variety interview with Emily and Melanie explores what happened when Melanie delivered the news and it was shared with NBC exec’s and the production staff;  http://variety.com/2017/tv/features/wynonna-earp-emily-andras-melanie-scrofano-news-exclusive-1202476757/

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