New York-based independent design and VFX house, Phosephone, partnered with HBO for the third consecutive season of David Simon’s New Orleans-based Treme.
“In this kind of grounded, realistic, character-driven drama, the visual effects challenge is always making sure the audience has no idea there are any VFX in the show,” Phosphene partner and VFX executive producer, Vivian Connolly, said.
One example of “invisible” effects in season three involves the bulldozing of a practical New Orleans location established in previous episodes. Production built and tore down a façade of the house on an empty lot. “The trick was to then seamlessly composite the destruction of the house into the practical location,” explained visual effects producer, Lea Prainsack.
“We had to create and fill in what you would see behind the house, had it actually been torn down,” Phosphene lead digital artist/visual effects supervisor Aaron Raff said. “The matte painting had to be integrated into an environment the audience was already very familiar with.”
“There was no margin for error or the audience would have been taken out of this important moment,” Phosphene partner and visual effects supervisor, John Bair, added.
“Phosphene has been Treme’s dedicated VFX partner for 3 complete seasons now,” Treme co-producer, Jessica Levin said. “Vivian Connolly, John Bair and their outstanding team are perfectionists who have never let us down. Their creative savvy, dedication and flexibility within budget constraints make them a dearly valued visual effects house for us.”
Phosphene used Nuke, 3ds Max with V-ray, Adobe Creative Suite, and PCs running Windows 7 64-bit in the execution of this project.