Computer Graphics World

Edition 2 2018

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 26 of 37

e d i t i o n 2 , 2 0 1 8 | c g w 2 5 according to Savela. For the Donna char- acter, there's an iridescent quality to her skin, a reflective quality. "Also, getting in and out of prosthetics was a bit hard on our actors. We wanted to give them as much freedom as we could with the least amount of restrictions, and I think they really felt it, especially [lead actress] Eline Powell (Ryn)," he says. "It was much nicer to be able to be free and not under a ton of makeup. There were certain things in the pilot where we had to go in and reduce wrinkles in the prosthetic anyway, so we figured, rather than having to pay for shots twice, let's go the path of least resistance." It was all quite a challenge, Savela says, noting you have a lot of variables, like some shots were below the water, then above water, bodies have to be replaced, there are air bubbles. "Some of the work Pixomodo has done on the show with our mermaids is just incredible, and it just keeps getting better and better. Plus, a big shout-out has to go to our actors, Eline and Sibo. I believe they could actually now hold their breath for three and a half to four minutes underwater while acting, doing all the motions," says Savela. "When we have them actually swimming [in order] to track, and the CG is rotomated onto their bodies — there are some shots in Episode 4 where it just looks beautiful — it's all just stunning, and it's such a nice marriage having live action with CG." The series is shot mainly on location in Vancouver with Arri Alexa cameras, with the visual effects teams working in stan- dard ProRes 4:4:4:4. According to Savela, the main tools are Foundry's Nuke for compositing and Autodesk's Maya for 3D. Toolwise it isn't anything groundbreaking, he notes, but really more of the technique, approach, and commitment they all had to do it this way. Other work includes full-CG environments with boats in the water and, later on in Episode 7, a fishing trawler that was actually tied to a dock that needed to be placed in the middle of the ocean for the scene. "There's also a scene where Ben (co- star Alex Roe) jumps into the water and discovers a tracking device that's stuck in the rudder of the ship," explains Savela. "That was shot in a tank on our stage with a lot of extension work and a CG propeller that was going around, to make it feel like that character was in danger. It really feels like the underside of the ship in the ocean. It does not look like a tank, which I think was really nice work. That was done by Atmosphere Visual Effects here in Vancouver." Savela says that of all the effects required for the show, the mermaid transformations are the most challenging. "Those scenes are always difficult because it's a very organic thing," he says. "Nobody wanted it to be like, 'Oh, they just trans- form.' Everyone wanted to show it as a painful process. They really had to convey that to the actors. And getting those shots right is very tricky because they are very subjective — what parts are going to be growing, how does a foot grow into a tail. Some people have an idea in their head, which might differ from what other people are thinking. It's not like there's a mermaid swimming around for us to compare it to or to see if what we're doing is right or wrong. It becomes the challenge just to please everybody and make something that looks very cool." According to Savela, when he first heard about the show, he was working on a different project. "But when I actually got a glimpse of the pilot, I was sold right away. I just thought it was really an amaz- ing story that Eric and Emily were telling, and it looks so nice. It's not your typical mermaid story. I was intrigued where we were going with it, and I knew the effects would be a challenge. And I really love challenges." When asked about the quality of visual effects on television and how they have evolved over the years, Savela quickly responds, "It's getting better and better. So much better with tracking soware and the integration. On a show like Siren, the directors can shoot the show how they want and don't have to worry about as many restrictions. They don't feel hand- cuffed, and that's been the biggest thing in the advancement of the technology." He continues: "What we've tried to do with Siren is make everything as believable and invisible as we can. People have never seen a transformation from a human to a mermaid in real life, but we want to make those as real as if they really do exist." And all the other effects – the set extensions and the water – there is a lot of work in there, and Savela doesn't want people to ever notice. "What we've all got- ten from the show is, let's make it as real as possible, as if there are real mermaids out there and we hired a mermaid actress and we filmed her in the midst of a trans- formation. That's our biggest goal, and I think the audience will appreciate that." He sums it up with: "I know the show is going to carry itself, based on the stories and the characters, and I feel like the show itself is a full dinner and we're a little bit of that extra gravy on top." – L. Romanello

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Computer Graphics World - Edition 2 2018