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FX Network ‘The Strain’

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The Method crew were excited to work on the latest promo for the upcoming FX Network TV series The Strain. They were asked to create an apocalyptic New York with the fate of all humanity in the balance as the Vampires attack. FX shot long sweeping helicopter shots that Method added CG vampires battling humans, burning buildings, burning cars, and replaced entire roof tops with Vampire and Human green screen elements to tell the story of the utter mayhem below. 

The opening shot of New York at dusk appears to be normal until we fly over head and see the two armies charging at each other. After the camera speeds along, it slows down over three rooftops allowing for three different stories to be witnessed among the millions of others below. On the first rooftop we see the despair as humans hide away as the vampires attack. On the second we see the vampires systematically hunting down every human in the city. On the third we see a rally of humans fighting back and attacking a wall of vampires. The final rooftop reveals the most powerful vampire of all, the Master. 

VFX Supervisor Jason Schugardt notes, "The director wanted to create a seamless camera move between the front shot to the over head shot. To complicate this, the two cameras fly over different parts of the city. With extensive plate and matte painting projections we created a third camera that blended the action of the two plates. 

We had planned to add fire and destruction, but not over the entire city. This meant we had to rely on extremely tight city models for projections and FX interaction. We decided to focus our energy on the frames that counted. We only put CG people on the slow moving areas and were more liberal with the fire and destruction in the fast moving sections."

The team used concept frames to block in size and placement for the CG fires and people. These were then transitioned into matte paintings and used as guides for the FX team to place the CG elements.

Overall, this project called for many different VFX techniques used to replace skies, track CG building geometry and stabilize camera moves and generate digital crowds.


Keywords

  • Environments
  • Crowd simulation
  • FX
  • Compositing
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