From Comedies ‘The Big Bang Theory’ to ‘Two and a Half Men,’ Dramas ‘NCIS’ to ‘Criminal Minds,’ to Fantasy and Sci-Fi — TV Technology Rivals Hollywood Effects
SAN RAFAEL, Calif., Nov. 15, 2011 — This year’s fall television season features an impressive array of visual effects (VFX) created using Digital Entertainment Creation (DEC) software from Autodesk, Inc. (NASDAQ: ADSK) on sci-fi thrillers, dramas and sitcoms, new shows and returning favorites. Postproduction studios are applying blockbuster movie techniques and technologies to create compelling and immersive television programming on at least 50 shows this season, from the prehistoric creatures in “Terra Nova,” to crime scene re-creations in “NCIS,” to a powerful tornado in “Criminal Minds.”
“Television schedules and budgets can be unwieldy — yet producers and audiences demand feature film quality,” said Marc Petit, senior vice president, Autodesk Media & Entertainment.
For Fox’s new hit series “Terra Nova,” VFX house Pixomondo made extensive use of Autodesk Maya software to animate believable, lifelike dinosaurs and help create the visually imaginative world. "Autodesk Maya is integral to the television VFX work we do on ‘Terra Nova,’” said Pixomondo General Manager and Executive Producer Mark Miller. “We are challenged to create feature-worthy VFX within the parameters of a television production, so we have to make sure we are efficient and tap the right tools for the job. Working with industry standard tools like Maya is essential for a company like Pixomondo that operates 11 facilities and has over 600 artists collaborating on projects around the world.”
The CW’s “The Vampire Diaries” features impressive physical transformations of werewolves and vampires, as well as photo-real smoke, fire and sizzling skin effects — all created by Los Angeles- and Vancouver-based Entity FX — using a Maya-centric synchronized production pipeline integrated with its own proprietary digital makeup software. Entity also created numerous effects for “Charlie’s Angels” and “The Secret Circle.” “We’ve worked with Maya since before it was called Maya,” noted Dan Rucinski, Entity FX executive producer. “We’re always eager to see the toolset expand with every generation, because as the tools grow, our capability to create expands exponentially.”
In HBO’s noir-sitcom season opener of “Bored to Death,” Click 3X tapped Autodesk Flame Premium 3D visual effects and look development software for a complex scene requiring a blend of live-action and photo-real computer-generated (CG) animation with advanced compositing. Click 3X achieved a weathered look by combining matte paintings and CG assets in Autodesk Flame software. Senior Flame Artist Aaron Vasquez painted trees, changed the lighting of buildings, and animated cars, traffic and even digital doubles to fill in the scene. “When creating realistic visual effects, our job is to match a virtual set to a real-world environment to draw viewers into the story,” said Click 3X VFX Supervisor Theodore Maniatis. “Integrated creative tools like Flame Premium and Smoke for Mac help us deliver that necessary touch of authenticity.”
MFX in Los Angeles has a reputation for creating impressive illusions for non-effects-driven television shows. The studio relied on an integrated Flame and Autodesk Flare software-based pipeline with Autodesk Smoke for Mac software for digital set extensions, greenscreen work, CG environments and 3D tracking on some of this season’s most popular sitcoms: “How I Met Your Mother,” “Big Bang Theory,” “Dexter,” “Mike & Molly,” “Shameless,” “Two and a Half Men,” “Friday Night Lights,” and “Last Man Standing,” as well as the new hit drama “Prime Suspect.” “We’re thrilled to work on such a variety of popular TV shows and even more proud that this season some of our effects work ended up comprising as much as 10 minutes of running time in a single episode,” said Rick Redick, MFX Design visual effects producer.
• The popular new drama “Teen Wolf” called for a fully digital alpha-male teen werewolf, for which Eden Effects turned to Autodesk 3ds Max modeling, animation, rendering and compositing software. The talented team at Eden also worked extensively on the new seasons of “NCIS,” “Fringe,” “Community,” “Chuck,” “Pan Am” and “The Playboy Club.”
• FuseFX used 3ds Max for the 3D animation on their 10-15 active television shows in production — creating particle systems, sensory visualizations, CG trains and animals as well as storm systems and set extensions on shows as varied as “Criminal Minds,” “Glee,” “The Good Wife,” “Hung,” “Luck,” and “Alphas.”
• LOOK Effects relied on Maya software for two series this season: “Bones” and “The Finder.”
• Level 3 used Autodesk creative finishing software (Flame and Smoke for Mac) for 3D visual effects, editorial finishing, look development and color grading on fifty shows, including: “Alphas,” “Castle,” “Bones,” “CSI: NY,” “Drop Dead Diva,” “Fringe,” “House,” “The Office,” “The Simpsons” and “Weeds.”
• Spin Pro used Maya and Autodesk Inferno software for two effects-heavy mini-series, “The Borgias” and “Titanic.”
Commenting on this season’s line-up, Marc Petit said, “We’re pleased that artists apply Autodesk tools to help solve so many of the complex VFX challenges they face week after week in some of the most impressive programming currently on home screens.”
About Autodesk Autodesk, Inc., is a leader in 3D design, engineering and entertainment software. Customers across the manufacturing, architecture, building, construction, and media and entertainment industries -- including the last 16 Academy Award winners for Best Visual Effects -- use Autodesk software to design, visualize and simulate their ideas. Since its introduction of AutoCAD software in 1982, Autodesk continues to develop the broadest portfolio of state-of-the-art software for global markets. For additional information about Autodesk, visit www.autodesk.com.
Autodesk, AutoCAD, Flame, Flare, Inferno, Maya, Smoke and 3ds Max are registered trademarks or trademarks of Autodesk, Inc., and/or its subsidiaries and/or affiliates in the USA and/or other countries. Academy Award is a registered trademark of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Mac OS is a trademark of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. All other brand names, product names or trademarks belong to their respective holders. Autodesk reserves the right to alter product and services offerings, and specifications and pricing at any time without notice, and is not responsible for typographical or graphical errors that may appear in this document. © 2011 Autodesk, Inc. All rights reserved.