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September/October 2021

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FEATURE 14 POST SEPT/OCT 2021 Y: The Last Man Creating the desolate look of this new FX on Hulu series BY MARC LOFTUS Y : The Last Man is a new FX on Hulu drama based on the DC Comics series by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra. After a cataclysmic event decimates nearly every mammal with a Y chromosome, one man and his pet monkey survive. The series follows those who are left and their efforts to restore what was lost. Produced by FX Productions, the show stars an ensemble cast that includes Diane Lane, a politi- cian who now assumes the role of President, along with Ashley Romans, Ben Schnetzer, Olivia Thirlby, Amber Tamblyn, Marin Ireland, Diana Bang, Elliot Fletcher, Juliana Canfield and Missi Pyle. VFX Muse VFX ( in Hollywood is one of the studios contributing visual effects to the series. Others include Switch, FuseFX and ILM. In Muse VFX's case, the studio has collaborated with visual effects supervisor Stephen W. Pugh on a number of projects over the past 20 years, and once again partnered with him on this series. "When he landed the job, he gave us a call and said, 'Look, I've got this new gig and I want you guys to be a part of it,'" explains Muse VFX co-founder/ creative director/VFX supervisor, John Gross. The studio got to work on the show in earnest last August, after delays due to COVID. At press time, Episodes 7, 8 and 9 were all in post produc- tion, with as many as 18 artists touching the show at different times. In addition to clean up, matte paintings and set extensions, Muse VFX also han- dles creature work, shots involving explosions and other forms of destruction — all with an emphasis on photorealism. Fred Pienkos, co-founder and VFX supervisor at Muse VFX, says the studio contributes between 35 and 45 shots for each episode. "I think Y: The Last Man is sort of the 'bridging of TV and film', because they're running it more like a TV pipeline, but they're shooting it more like a film," notes Pienkos. "For example, the whole show is shot anamorphic, which is a decision they made for the look of the show. But that requires a little more effort in the visual effects world to deal with those lenses. It's sort of coming together, like TV and film are colliding. It's been going on for a while, but this show really feels like that." Much of the show is shot in Canada, but made to look like different areas of the United States, including Washington, DC, Boston and Oklahoma. "Everything's based in reality," says Gross. "The explosions — if there's something exploding — it's because somebody blew it up. Things fall and crash, and then (there's) a lot of just making people look dead or making props look better. A lot of invisible effects, making things look dead and destitute." Muse VFX had a remote pipeline set up before the pandemic, but COVID really pushed the studio to take advantage of it. "We were doing a little remote work before the pandemic," says Gross, "but the pandemic really pushed us, and pushed Fred and the IT team, to make it happen, where it can just be like we're in the office." "Pipeline wise, our studio is basically a private cloud, and all of the content is secured in a pri- vate network," explains Pienkos. "People use VPN and cloud-access software to remote into (the studio) from their house. All of the work is being done in our private network, but from people around the country." Switch created VFX for this scene in Episode 1.

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