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October 2017

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Page 17 of 43 16 POST OCTOBER 2017 VISUAL EFFECTS omedy writer, director, creator, pro- ducer, actor Seth MacFarlane (Ted, Family Guy) is flying into space this fall TV season with a new sci-fi comedy/ action drama, The Orville. The new Fox series, which stars MacFarlane, along with Agents of S.H.I.E.D.S.'s Adrianne Palicki and Scott Grimes, follows the crew of the slightly dysfunctional exploratory ship, The Orville, in the Earth's interstellar fleet, 400 years in the future. While onscreen, the crew faces a series of challenges as they meet hostile aliens and visit strange planets, behind the scenes, VFX teams had the tall order of creating strong, believable visuals on a TV schedule and budget. Here, Post speaks with previs supervisor Kenny DiGiordano from Santa Monica-based Halon Entertainment and VFX supervisor Tommy Tran of LA's FuseFX on what it took to help The Orville take flight! PREVISUALIZATION Founded in 2003, Halon Entertainment's president and director Daniel Gregoire envisioned a full-service visualization company that would be committed to advancing the art of storytelling through innovative technology and previsualization for film, TV, games and ads. With head- quarters in Santa Monica and operations in Vancouver and London, Halon has had a hand in some of the industry's highest pro- file projects, including Avatar, The Hunger Games, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Twilight: Breaking Dawn (Parts 1 and 2), Jurassic World and Star Wars: the Force Awakens. Halon also worked on MacFarlane's Ted 2, released in theaters in 2015. Under the direction of DiGiordano, who worked closely with the show's VFX super- visor Luke McDonald, Halon was brought on board for the new project to create space battles, worm holes, exploding plan- ets and more through previs, helping bring MacFarlane's creative vision to life. Having spent nine months on all 13 ep- isodes, working on the Fox lot, Halon was tasked early on to help establish some of the environments and the movement of the ship itself. "We were brought on back in November, when they were still plan- ning the initial, opening sequence of the show. At that point, there were still a lot of things we needed to figure out — the world and how the ship was moving," ex- plains DiGiordana. "Since it's so big scale, they wanted a real graceful, smooth mov- ing ship. We basically pushed for when the ship is just flying along in space, it has a real smooth, graceful movement. But then, for example, in the space battle in the pilot episode, we wanted to try something a bit different to try and show that the ship wasn't as restricted in its movement as you think it could be. So that was an exploratory process there. Once we were able to establish that, we basically dove right into the pilot. The ultimate goal was to have the team stay ahead of the shoot, by usually about three episodes. Once we were able to stay on schedule with that, it was smooth sailing from there." The Halon team also provided the basis for motion control data to supplement model shoots of a practical scale model of the Orville, and provided point of view material displayed on a 18 x 104 foot LED screen giving the actors a clear sense of what was happening outside the ship during their scenes. "That was really neat because outside the window, there was this giant LED screen which basically curved around the whole front side of the bridge," says DiGiordana. "When the actors needed to see what they would be reacting to, we were able to project our previs onto this screen. By doing this, we were also able to get the real-time lighting interacting with the actors." To achieve the previs, DiGiordana says Halon relied on a mix of Autodesk Maya, Adobe Photoshop, SynthEyes for postvis tracking and the Unreal Engine suite of tools. "We were wondering how far we could take [Unreal Engine] on this show," says DiGiordana. "Since I just came off of the Planet of the Apes movie, which was the first time that our company used it on that production level, we developed a way where we were able to work it into our Orville pipeline here. Having the capability of the Engine at our fingertips, we were really able to push the limits of what we FOX'S THE ORVILLE TAKES FLIGHT C BY LINDA ROMANELLO HALON & FUSEFX BOOST VFX FOR NEW SETH MACFARLANE SCI-FI SERIES

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