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July/August 2010July/August 2010

Table of Contents

This issue features articles on TV series that film primarily on location; the VFX wizardry used on CSI and Warehouse 13; seven upcoming independent films; and a Spotlight on production in the Northeast.

Locations, Locations, Locations

9th Ward ritualAlthough many TV series rarely venture beyond their Hollywood soundstages, these shows rely on very different locales to make their series shine.

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VFX in TV Series: CSI and Warehouse 13 Wow Viewers with VFX

CSI, Warehouse 13 EffectsAlthough the original CSI: Crime Scene Investigation is beginning its eleventh season on CBS, the groundbreaking criminal forensics series is definitely not in a visual effects rut. Los Angeles-based Zoic Studios (, which has been the VFX provider for the show since season five and helps with the Miami and New York spin-offs as needed, recently netted a Visual Effects Society award for its ‘frozen moment’ season 10 opener (see photos) and won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Special Visual Effects for a Series for the amazing, no-cuts 2:20 sequence, the biggest Zoic has ever done for a series.

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Eye on Independent Films

The Film: 6Although technology has leveled the playing field, the focus in indie filmmaking is on the people and the storytelling.

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Spotlight: Northeast - Fine-tuning Production's Economic Engine

One Life to Live and The Last Airbender scenesDespite the recession, most state legislatures are still in tune with the importance of offering tax incentives to production even though state tax revenues have taken a big hit in the past year. That's why New York is targeting an increase for its till this year, Pennsylvania has restored its pool after a dip in funding and New Jersey expects to reinstate incentives after a suspension. Even Delaware, which has never had a film office, is trying to get into the game having run the numbers and seen what an economic driver production can be.

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From The Editor: Unconventional Characters

Not every character in a movie or TV show is an actor. In this issue, Markee 2.0 reports how locations from coast to coast play the role of characters in broadcast and cable series from the critically-acclaimed Treme to the hot, new Hawaii Five-0. VFX in two top-rated series, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (congratulations to Zoic Studios for its recent Emmy win for CSI) and Warehouse 13, also act as characters supporting strong storylines.

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Making Commercials: Ohio Lottery Steals The Scene

Remember the Mission Impossible scene in which Tom Cruise breaks into a CIA vault by diving from the ceiling wearing a harness? “Heist,” a 30-second commercial for the Ohio Lottery from Northlich/Cincinnati, re-created the famous sequence, with a few variations, for less than $100,000, a pretty good price in this day and age. 

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Making TV: The Final Home Run

It was an irresistible project for Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford. Shoot a television show about moving Henry “Hank” Aaron's childhood home from a residential section of Mobile, Alabama to Hank Aaron Stadium, home of the minor league Mobile BayBears, where it would be transformed into a museum celebrating Aaron's achievements.

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Inside View: STEELE Studios

“STEELE was asked to come on board by [director] Marcus Raboy of DNA to handle all the post effects, conform, online, beauty, stereo convergence and mastering for ‘Waka Waka.’ It was an impossibly tight timetable made all the more complicated by the need to deliver different 2D and 3D versions on opposing schedules; the client, Sony Music, wanted to represent the piece for the duration of the World Cup in their 3D pavilion there and in point-of-sale demonstrations worldwide for Bravia 3D TVs.

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