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July 2015

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Page 15 of 51 14 POST JULY 2015 n Starz's original series, Outlander, 18 th century Scotland is alive and well — and looking better than ever. With its expansive highlands, authentic Scot- tish castles, and lush valleys wrapped in a thick mist, it's hard to believe the show is actually shot in the 21st century. But thanks to its high-quality production team (production design, cinematog- raphy, costumes, editing, etc.) and the outstanding work of VFX supervisor Jonathan Privett and the artists at UK's Double Negative (Dneg), 1743 Scotland couldn't look more real. And, according to Privett, keeping it real was one of the early mandates from show producers. "The production value on this show is very high," he says. "And we understood right from the beginning that we needed to make sure it was all as authentic and real-looking as possible." With a show that is shot in pres- ent-day Scotland, taking place in two other distinct periods of time, Dneg had its work cut out. By the time the Season 1 finale aired end of May, the studio had completed just under 700 VFX shots. Starz debuted Outlander in 2014, and it was extremely well received by both viewers and critics alike. Executive produced by Ron Moore and based on the epic novels by Diana Gabaldon, Outlander is now back in production for Season 2. Predominantly a period piece with a dash of sci-fi, the series follows the story of 1940s military nurse Claire Randall (played by Caitriona Balfe), who mys- teriously gets swept back in time to a turbulent 1743 Scotland — when being British does not put the odds in her favor. The show opens in 1945, with the end of WWII, and flashbacks to that time period when Claire was with her husband, a historian, visiting the same Scottish lands she travels back in time to, continue throughout the series. In fact, in the series opener, Claire and her husband visit the ruins of the very same castle she ends up "living" in after she transports to the 1700s. Doune Castle is the location used for the show's Castle Leoch. Fairly well-pre- served, Double Negative needed to make several changes digitally (as well as some practical changes), to make it look like medieval ruins when seen in 1945. Privett says that since the show is actually shot on-location in Scotland (on Arri Alexa's in ProRes 4:4:4 format, but delivered in 4:2:2), a great deal of the work is removing anything that would be seemingly out of place and time, and re- placing with other elements more fitting for the period. By using matte paintings and set extensions, a lot was also done to make that same run-down, decrepit castle in the early scenes look new when viewers see it again in the 1700s. Or, rather, the other way around. Privett says that there are many castles and land- mark buildings still standing and in good shape in Scotland. "There's a lot of architectural and en- vironment work we do on Outlander," he explains. "The show is shot in Scotland and in some instances, it wasn't possible to get all the highlands — some of that scenery is added to the background. Contrary to popular belief, some of Scot- land is actually quite flat. So we did add in the highlands. In some instances, there are a few non-period things we needed to remove, or buildings that were in more disrepair than they would have been in the 18th century." With much of the work completed STARZ'S OUTLANDER BY LINDA ROMANELLO VFX TAKES THE HIGH GROUND I PRIMETIME While Outlander is filmed in Scotland, its scenery still receives digital enhancements.

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