As TV shows are able to employ more and more visual effects, it’s up to companies like the Molecule to meet the demand. In a new article in Post Magazine, the Molecule’s own Luke DiTommaso (VFX Supervisor/COO) weighs in on VFX for TV.
VFX for TV Series By: Marc Loftus
The Molecule in New York has been around for approximately seven years. The studio was founded by a team of freelancers, including VFX supervisor/COO Luke DiTommaso, each of whom brought a different skill to the table.
Working out of a 2,600-square-foot loft in Soho, The Molecule also recently opened an Los Angeles office, and has been busy contributing visual effects to a number of television shows. DiTommaso cites the FX series Rescue Me as The Molecule’s first big break in VFX for TV. The studio created numerous explosions and fire effects for the recently concluded series, which starred Dennis Leary as a NYC fireman. Their work on Rescue Me led to work on another FX series — Damages — and at press time the studio was also working on NYC22 and Royal Pains.
“Royal Pains starts shooting early, before the leaves turn, and the trees are still bare. It’s supposed to be a summer show. We do a lot of background matte paintings, adding trees.” The Molecule also handles monitor burn-ins and medical enhancements, as well as fixes cosmetic work and effects that help maintain continuity.
One obvious effects shot required the look of a live x-ray. The Molecule secured some x-ray footage and composited a hand, shot against a blackscreen, to make it look like a surgeon was performing a procedure on a patient.
“They also shoot on a stage, so they’ll shoot in front of a massive curtain, which looks pretty good for the most part,” DiTommaso notes, “but you can see that the water isn’t moving, so we will add water reflections and birds passing, and it brings the scene to life.”
For Damages, which stars Glenn Close as a ruthless lawyer, the studio recently had to create a number of video monitor effects. “The protagonist is a Jullain Assange/Wikileaks-type of person,” he notes, “so there is a lot of iChat type of stuff. We are creating a lot of graphics and user interfaces. In one scene, they were doing a Skype thing, but they wanted to show that the people’s faces were being blurred out. We created an interface that they used on-set for live playback of this After Effects-style interface.”