Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Pan Am: Using Visual Effects to Create Different Worlds

One of the new shows that I've really enjoyed so far this season is ABC's Pan Am, which centers around a group of Pan Am stewardesses in the 1960s. The show is shot in New York but takes place all around the world. In the past four episodes alone it has taken place in Hong Kong, Paris, Jakarta, London, New York City, and Berlin. The show has done a great job of portraying these different locations and is very convincing. A lot can be attributed to the visual effects team and art department.They are able to build entire cities without ever leaving their studio in New York. This is especially important for a show that's main focus is the different cities the
flight attendants go to.
Even the scenes that take place in the Pan Am terminal in New York are extremely convincing and well done. The sets are huge and you can tell that the production doesn't hold back, especially when it comes to its visual effects. I found this article that describes the making of the pilot episode. I found out that Stargate Studios, the visual effects company I posted about a few weeks ago is the company behind the visual effects of Pan Am. The article goes into detail about how the Pan Am features one of the largest virtual sets ever created, the main airport terminal set. Rather than build the entire set, an area of 150 square-feet was covered in green screen and used for shooting.
The production used Stargate's VB-live real time compositing system, which requires the studio to pre-build all of the virtual sets so the actors can see them on monitors as they are filming. After shooting, they fine-tuned the shots in Maya and After Effects. The results are stunning in my opinion. Pan Am is beautifully shot and so much of that can be attributed to the visual effects team. I definitely recommend you all check out the pilot! Here is the trailer:

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