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HomeNewsEngine Room Reaches For The Sky With Empire

Engine Room Reaches For The Sky With Empire

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Engine Room handled VFX for National Geographic's Empire.
An original concept by developed Engine Room, National Geographic’s Empire, is the story of two iconic architectural projects – the Empire State building and the new One World Tower. For the unique project, Engine Room teamed with director John Joseph and First Television to produce a documentary special that weaves modern day interviews with recreated historic sequences that transport viewers to a time that changed New York’s famous skyline forever.

Empire’s original perspective, as told through the developers and ironworkers responsible for these massive buildings, reveals an important historic continuum in New York’s development.

The story of the Empire State building is fascinating – in the face of the great depression, using no hard hats or nets, iron workers risked their lives to build the Empire State in a mere 13 months. Empire also brings witness to One World Tower, showing that many of today’s ironworkers have a lifeline to the Empire State built by great uncles or grandparents in the ironwork trade.

“For many people, the Empire State is an incredible monument to achievement and a symbol of a great city built by many unsung heroes” said Engine Room’s Dan Schmit. “For Engine Room, the project marks an exciting expansion into original property development.”

Empire depicts the construction of New York's iconic Empire State building.
To bring this story to life, Engine Room utilized animation and visual effects to painstakingly recreate historic sequences that bring the viewer back in time to the 82nd floor of the Empire State building.

Schmit shot the recreations and cast the historic actors. The Engine Room team built set pieces and produced all of the digital elements needed to depict the many facets of the Empire State construction team.

Through revealing interviews directed by Joseph, modern day ironworkers, recipients of a relatively unchanged craft handed down form generation to generation, provide the living links to the experiences and accomplishments of the men who built the Empire State building.

“A documentarian drops into people’s lives and is then challenged to translate their experiences for an audience,” said Joseph. “With Empire, the original voices are long gone, as is most of the historic documentation, but we are able to illuminate the experience through today’s elite ironworkers and with the amazing recreations by Engine Room. The beauty of documentary is taking viewers on a journey to previously unexplored ideas and places. In this case, the world of the premiere ironworker and the extraordinary feat of building these rising towers.”

In addition, Engine Room tapped Zack Kenny to produce and design the show’s deco-inspired main titles and interstitial graphics.

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