Computer Graphics World

March / April 2016

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44 cgw m a r c h . a p r i l 2 0 1 6 hat would our present life be like had the US and Allies fallen to the Axis powers during World War II? That is the premise of the online series The Man in the High Castle, set in 1962, 15 years aer the re-imagined war ends on a very different note from actual life – with Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany ruling over what had been the US. Amazon Studios debuted The Man in the High Castle early last year, and the show was then green-lit to become a series, with nine additional episodes released around Thanksgiving. Based on Philip K. Dick's award-winning novel and executive-produced by Ridley Scott, the series explores an alternative life here in the US where the country is occupied by the foreign powers. VFX Producer Terry Hutcheson was tasked with creating this imagined world, which extended beyond just signage to include architecture and even automobiles. He relied on a number of studios to lend their visual effects expertise, including Zoic (www.zoicstu-, which got on board as early as the series' pilot. Here, Hutcheson and Zoic VFX Supervisor Jeff Baksinski look back on the popular series and the use of visual effects to create an alter- nate nation, as well as solve unforeseen production challenges. What was unique about this series? Baksinski: I had read the book before, but what was really unique about this show is you have to make [it] 1962 New York. You had to totally 'Nazi Germany' it up. It was an interesting problem. You have all the problems of researching architecture that would be there in the '60s and make sure there are no more modern buildings, but then also interpret what would Germany have done to it? How would this be altered in some way? It's the same thing we had to do with Japan occupying San Fran- cisco. We kept the bones of San Francisco but changed the buildings and architecture to better represent 1962 Japan. From a special effects standpoint, I don't think people realize what a big deal that was on this show. Imagine everywhere we shoot is 2015. When we go back through all that footage, not only are you removing large buildings and replacing everything, you are doing it on shots that you're not even thinking of. In the pilot, there's the shoot-out in an alleyway when he leaves in the truck. It looks pretty standard, but all those backgrounds had to change to 1962. We had to change all the road signs, all the streetlights, things like the cross- walks and where the lines were made on the roads. Even the cars were given a treatment. Hutcheson: Yeah, Americans still made cars in the '50s, but they didn't have the design aspects. Any cars that had fins — the classic 1950s cars with fins — those all had to be taken off. We had to re-do cars, paint them out, and all these little things that you just don't think about. The audience doesn't really notice, but it creates a feeling of 'plain' and 'not ornamented.' Then we built the Nazi headquarters in New York, and put it where the UN is. Everybody is going to see that. Everybody knows that area and that building. But it's the more subtle details… especially for establishers. We were using stock shots. We'd look at a stock shot and say, 'OK, what has to change?' You'd have to take out a bunch of buildings and add more plain buildings. THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE RE-ENVISIONS AN ALTERNATE HISTORY FOR THE US HISTORY BY MARC LOFTUS Changing W

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