Bobo is Back & the Big Burn

Wynonna Earp S2 Episode 8 No Future in the Past – Wynonna’s time travel vision quest has finally revealed the nature of the special connection between Bobo and Waverly – as show runner Emily Andras says in an interview with Entertainment Weekly:

Emily Andras 2
Emily Andras

“We always knew that Waverly and Bobo have a special connection, that he was fascinated with her in a way that didn’t exactly scream “healthy admiration.” But now we see that in the past, Bobo has been Waverly’s protector. We really leaned into this story line when we saw the incredible chemistry between Dominique Provost-Chalkley and Michael Eklund.” 

M Eklund 2
Michael Eklund

We’re all happy to see Bobo/Michael Eklund back, resurrected during Wynonna’s momentary mini-death. Being “special”, Bobo is the only revenant who could be reborn and as Emily says:  “Bobo is an enigma. He was as much an innocent victim of the curse as the Earps — but when he returned to Earth in demon form, he was one of the most vicious, conniving revenants. He can do whatever he wants… and I can’t wait to see what that is.”  Neither can we…

But time traveling vision quests aside, for us this week’s episode was all about the church burn.  This church does actually exist on the outdoor western town set at CL Ranch nearCL Ranch pic 2 Calgary. It was built for the series Lonesome Dove and has been used in productions like Unforgiven, Legends of the Fall, Hell on Wheels, Heartland and Shanghai Noon.  Each production dresses the town set to suit their art direction and other unique production needs.

Of course we couldn’t burn the actual church because of time and budget constraints so Leo proposed to director Paolo Barzman silhouetting fire against a full scale purpose-built  slat frame replica. Careful preparation and timing on a full building burn is crucial. And when it comes off as perfectly as this did our 021pyro-maniacal SPFX crew is very happy.  On this occasion the Alberta weather was dubious about cooperating and as the days advanced we were not sure if we would be in a dry grass field or under 10 feet of snow so the burn had to be carefully controlled for both safety and environmental reasons. It’s set up like a giant barbeque with propane jets placed in strategic locations in and around the building with the ability to turn off at a moments notice. Being lit for over 8 minutes of shooting we used up near 1000 lbs of propane gas at a very high flow rate. Being a night burn the effect is almost over-whelming. Still once the flames start you have no choice but to run with it and there is only one chance to get it right.   In a very lucky turn of events the fire truck was perfectly situated to reflect all those lovely flames and enhance the effect. Heartlandfire

Leo, Wynonna’s SPFX supervisor and BAI founder is an expert at burns. This is one of our favourite pics of him  – on the job during another burn on CBC’s Heartland. You never have complete control over a fire that big, so many safety precautions are taken to ensure there is no risk to the workers on set.  In this photo Leo is testing the air stream created so that stunt performers can pass easily up the stairs all the while looking like they are in maximum danger.

Baby P 1The party prop Alyssa worked hard to create was the comically cute baby piñata for Wynonna’s baby shower.  We found out quickly that peach is out as a party theme colour so peach coloured tissue paper no longer exists anywhere in North America! Ours was tinted, cut and fringed in our shop.  Gluing tiny rows of tissue by hand is a supremely finicky process, Alyssa’s patience was put to the test on this project.  These days Baby Pinata watches us work in the “fishbowl” our busy admin office. IMG_4242

And it’s not a Bleeding Art blog without a bit of gore – here’s a behind the scenes shot of Shaun Johnston/Juan Carlos and talented SPFX tech Megz Reynolds at the lunch buffet.

Season 2 of Wynonna Earp airs on Space and Syfy on Friday nights 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.

You can also like, follow and visit us on:

Bookmark_Icons_Facebook  Bookmark_Icons_Twitter  Instagram-v051916_200  YouTube icon

Advertisements

Mad Max vs Life of Pi: FX Explained

Bringing a dramatic story to life on screen demands many things, but in the world of Bleeding Art Industries it requires the perfect marriage of two very different processes.  In today’s blog we give a quick definition of these with a dive into some issues surrounding the topic and how the processes can work together.

In recent years, the explosion in motion picture technology has created an almost limitless range of worlds and happenings. Mechanical special effects, visual effects, and CGI (computer generated imagery) are often referenced as the same when they in fact mean very different things, draw on different skill sets and happen at different stages of the production process. It is small wonder that while audiences have become increasingly sophisticated in their ability to recognize effects, there is at the same time growing confusion that even engulfs professionals in the industry.  Add that to a growing dissatisfaction by audiences (termed the “WETA effect”) and we find a situation that makes for difficult waters to navigate.  Click on this link to see Story Brain’s very apt assessment about how the WETA effect affects our enjoyment of filmic special effects:

So, let’s start with some definitions.

SPFX, SFX, FX or Special Effects are mechanical illusions (also called practical, “in camera”, or physical effects that are usually accomplished during the live-action shooting and use a magician’s sleight of hand to trick the mind into making assumptions about an image. This includes the use of mechanized props, scenery, scale models, animatronics, pyrotechnics and atmospheric effects: creating physical wind, rain, fog, snow, clouds, etc. This is our profession and what we as the special effects crew were in charge of for the first season of Wynonna Earp, with the autopsy scene in Episode 8 being a great example of combining mechanical effects and prosthetics, with extremely minor digital work.

CGI or Computer generated imagery is when  digital 3D computer graphics are used to create or contribute to images in art, printed media, video games, films, television programs, shorts, commercials, videos, and simulators. CGI is done on a computer, not in the real physical world like special effects.

VFX or Visual Effects is the process by which imagery is created and/or manipulated outside the context of a live action shot. Visual effects involve the integration of live action footage and computer generated imagery to create environments which look realistic, but would be dangerous, expensive, impractical, or impossible to capture on film.

Can you see how these words could be used interchangeably?  It is this last term “VFX” where the confusion is most prominent.  Often elements of physical special effects are combined in the digital realm creating the best and most believable image for the world of the motion picture.  Indeed awards have been won by CGI artists when in fact most of the heavy lifting was done by the physical effects team.  Indeed even visual effects supervisors are sometimes mechanical effects supervisors that oversee both departments.

The work we did on Terry Gilliam’s Tideland is a perfect example of how different effects were well blended and complementary to one another.Tideland1

In these shots you can see how a physical space utilizing wind machines, fabric, and a flying harness was used to create the effect of the actor (Jodelle Ferland) swimming through reeds in the water in a dream sequence.

Tideland2

The character is completely interactive with the important elements of her surroundings.  Set against a green screen, the imagined water, other objects and backgrounds are expertly added in on the computer in post-production.

On set during the planning, Tideland Visual Effects Supervisor Richard Bain turned to Leo, who was the Special Effects Supervisor, saying that Leo’s advice saved them hundreds of thousands of dollars just by creating that particular scene with the practical special effects coming first and the CG enhancing it later. Which brings up a key point – to be most effective from a time and cost perspective, special effects and visual effects should be working together with thoughtful and deliberate planning from the start. When this doesn’t happen, attempts are made to fix scenes on the computer in post-production, with very mixed results. The best melding of two worlds happens when they’re dealt with at the beginning and not as an afterthought.

In 2012, Yann Martel’s novel Life of Pi was adapted into a theatrical feature film directed by Ang Lee. This is a great example of a film that successfully uses a huge amount of CGI and visual effects and speaks to the use of CG instead of physical effects for the sake of safety. This slightly less graphically realistic visual style also served the spirit of the story aesthetically. If you have seen Life of Pi, you know that it would be fairly challenging to incorporate real animals in the film. There is a great clip in a piece here of how a real hyena was used in the film, but only for shots when the main actor was not present. The VFX companies then recreated the hyena digitally for other shots that incorporated the animals and actor.

Unfortunately, because of the proliferation of CG programs available to just about everyone, it is sometimes used to the detriment of the story and production, looking pasted on or in fact defying the laws of physics, which can disconnect viewers from the story rather than increasing their engagement.

The world of CG is changing radically now that there are so many more people working in the industry from all over the world, driving down the costs. A casualty of this trend was Life of Pi visual effects and animation house Rhythm & Hues which filed for bankruptcy on the heels of the film winning Oscars, including for Best Visual Effects.  Here’s a short documentary on YouTube speaking to this:

 

Mad Max: Fury Road is a 2015 action film considered the best film of 2015 by many critics and publications as well as one of the greatest action films of all time. It is estimated on IMDb that around 80% of the effects seen in the film are “real practical effects, stunts, make-up and sets” and that “CGI was used sparingly mainly to enhance the Namibian landscape, remove stunt rigging and for Charlize Theron’s left hand which in the film is a prosthetic arm.” Here’s an interesting link that shows some of the before and after shots so you can see what was real and what was done on a computer.

We hope you enjoyed today’s blog about effects.  I’m sure you will be looking very closely to see whether something is a computer generated effect or a mechanical one next time you’re in the movie theatre. This is also a great reason to stay to watch the credits when you’re at the movies – you can see the teams of people working in the different areas of visual effects, CG and special effects. Although drawing on different skill sets, whether working in CG, VFX, or mechanical special effects, everyone brings something to the story, hopefully combined in a way that elevates the experience for the viewer.

In what film, series, or other production do you think one or all of these effects has been used well – or not? Follow the blog and post your comments below. We’d love to hear from you!