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September 2015

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Page 11 of 51 10 POST SEPTEMBER 2015 ABC'S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. BY LINDA ROMANELLO n the heels of its Season 3 pre- miere on ABC, Marvel's high-pro- file Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. scored an Emmy nomination for "Outstanding Special Visual Effects" for its Season 2 episode, "The Dirty Half Dozen." With storylines closely tied to the box office juggernaut Avengers films, "The Dirty Half Dozen" episode aired just days before the weekend opening of Age of Ultron, featuring the "time to bring in the Avengers" lead-in line. That same episode also featured a host of Marvel-quality VFX work, including "Inhuman" characters with special trans- porting and telekinetic powers, and the fiery mid-air destruction of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s airborne mobile command center, known as the Bus. According to VFX supervisor Mark Kolpack and VFX producer Sabrina Arnold, the team is typically asked to deliver roughly 2,000 VFX shots for a 22-episode season. Kolpack says, "the episode that has the largest variety of ef- fects is usually the one you want to [sub- mit to the Television Academy] because it shows the larger scope of work." Kolpack adds, that to be nominated for an Emmy, is "very, very nice. It's al- ways nice to have one's work recognized by your peers. We're doing what we want to do, which is great work, and the recognition is always flattering." In general, Kolpack says the VFX demands on the series range and are always evolving. "We really run the gamut on the types of effects," he says. "We always have new things pop up and so it's always challenging. But basically, we have what you would consider your hard surface types of effects, the Bus, the QuinJet, the HQ hangar (which is a virtual set), digital double work, a lot of effects animation, all of the after burners and the exhaust (it's all effects animation), a host of matte paintings and set extensions, and a fair amount of character animation and motion capture with digital doubles. "We're always striving to create Marvel feature-for-television visual effects. That's my personal mandate. It's maintaining Marvel brand. It's never showing a dispar- ity between the cinematic universe and the television one. We were the first and only live-action Marvel television show on the air, so it was important that we do that. And every season we obviously build upon and try to elevate the work, where we see areas that could have been better. Those are definitely the ones we focus on more, along with any of the new challenges that come up. And there are always new challenges." "The Dirty Half Dozen" episode featured a complex storyline, a host of characters and explosive visual ef- fects — the Marvel team relied heavily on vendors FuseFX (Burbank, CA) and Pixomondo (Los Angeles), with additional support from Cosa (North Hollywood, CA), Greenhaus GFX (Culver City, CA), Lion VFX (El Segundo, CA) and Synaptic (Burbank, CA). "We're proud of all the episodes that we produce," says Kolpack. In Season 2, we were hoping that Episodes 21 and 22 were going to play as a two-hour because we had Skye (Chloe Bennet) taking down a forest [using her teleki- netic powers]. We thought, 'This is great, we're going to have all these creative sets in one episode.' But that didn't work O BIG TIME VFX HELP MARVEL'S FIRST LIVE- ACTION TV DRAMA SECURE EMMY NOD The S.H.I.E.L.D. cast usually shoots VFX scenes in front of a bluescreen.

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