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August 2015

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PRIMETIME 14 POST AUGUST 2015 he Last Ship, from executive producer Michael Bay, set sail on TNT in 2014 and continues its voyage in Season 2, taking viewers on one sea- bound adventure after another. Here, the crew of US naval destroyer the USS Nathan James is forced to confront reality when a pandemic kills off most of the Earth's population. Setting off on the high seas with a cure for the deadly virus for survivors is CO CDR Tom Chandler (star Eric Dane), scientist Dr. Rachel Scott (Rhona Mitra), who developed the cure, and the ship's crew. However, not everyone they encounter along the way is as anxious to deliver a cure to survivors — many have their own agenda — and the team faces opposition in a variety of scenarios. The series is shot predominantly in Manhattan Beach, CA, aboard an actual US naval destroyer, on Red Dragon cam- eras. According to VFX supervisor and co-producer Marc Kolbe, the Dragon's small form factor was perfect for the many scenes that take place inside the ship's tight interiors. "We're shooting in 5K, which gives us a huge latitude," says Kolbe, pointing out that the cameras help the team deliver what he describes as that signature "Michael Bay look with lots of saturated color." However, the visual effects for the show — and keeping them as realis- tic-looking as possible — is where Kolbe's attention is set. With storylines that take the ship and crew to both domestic and international waters, and various envi- ronments, certain shots are captured in front of greenscreen and/or require set extensions. Kolbe says the VFX shots on The Last Ship can range anywhere from 100 to 150 per episode. "It is definitely a handful," he says. "We're shooting on a navy destroyer that is either at port, sitting on the docks and we have to remove everything externally, or we actually go out to sea and shoot." Kolbe describes certain scenarios where the team could be shooting in San Diego, but the storyline is supposed to be set in places like Florida or along the East Coast. "We obviously have to do a lot of set extensions and taking a lot of locations and making them look totally different from what we started with." One of the episodes, for example, was set in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, but was shot in three different locations — Lancaster, Santé Fe Springs and San Diego. "We did set extensions to bring it all together." Other scenes require enhancements, such as CG helicopters, muzzle flashes or additional shells during battles. "We try to do as much practical work as possible," says Kolbe, "and then en- hance it by adding debris, things like that. When we're on the ship, we'll sometimes mix. For instance, we were able to get one helicopter to do some of our stunts but then we augmented it with multiple TNT'S THE LAST SHIP BY LINDA ROMANELLO HOW THIS HIT DRAMA IS KEEPING IT REAL WITH VFX T Star Eric Dane has mastered his sea legs for scenes shot (on Red Dragon cameras) aboard an actual US naval destroyer.

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