VFX Supervision for
Big action set pieces aren’t unusual for this all-out Fox/Hulu primetime show, but this new season introduced stricter budgetary constraints, affecting both principal and post production.
The first and second episodes required adding animals to various plate shots, removing crews and equipment, and creating the illusion of a rescue operation being performed on a helicopter that is hanging sideways off the top of a hospital building.
For the animals, we chose a combination of green screen element integration and computer-generated animals hand-animated for two drone shots. These were done at a short timeframe, and required a great deal of prioritizing and optimizing to achieve the goals of each shot while keeping quality compromises to a minimum.
For the helicopter rescue sequence, we combined three different locations. Wide establishing shots were filmed at the real hospital location near downtown LA, with the helicopter added digitally due to safety restrictions. Most of the rescue coverage, including drone shots revealing the perilous 100-feet drop beneath the helicopter, were shot on a 25-foot tall mock-up build of the hospital roof at a Santa Clarita film ranch. For these shots, a life-size helicopter replica was lifted and hung beside the construction, and the rescue was performed by the actors wearing safety harnesses. While being the closest we could get to filming the scenario “for real”, these shots required a considerable amount of post production work: From safety and film equipment removal, to set extensions and adding CG helicopter rotors in almost every shot. Note that budget limitations required us to rely almost completely on photographed plates, rather than 3D built, for set extensions. Luckily, despite heavy time constraints on location, we were able to capture just enough background plates to fit all of our needs.
TV shows (especially network shows) are notoriously demanding when it comes to VFX turnaround time, but our beloved 9-1-1 stands out among them, with many episodes having a week or less between turnover to final delivery before airing the following Monday. For this season premiere we were granted a head start of about three weeks, and it’s thanks to the hard work and agility of our FuseFX team of artists, both in LA and New York, as well as an engaged and supportive crew producing the show, that we managed to pull off at a quality that we felt proud of.
VFX by FuseFX
VFX supervisor: David Gidali and Anthony Filipakis
On-set supervisors: David Gidali and David Fogg
VFX producers: Tony Pirzadeh and Camara Edwards
VFX coordinators: Darnell Gooch, Josh Bock, Courtney Shumway
CG supervisor: Bryant Reif
Comp supervisor: Tim Cairns, Daniel Gardiner
DMP supervisor: Jeremy Melton
VFX editor: Lewis Durand
VFX artists: Anthony Meschi, Chris Gravland, Chris Zeiler, Daniel Sandoval-Guillen, Jason Heinze, Jerome Williams, Lala Ghukasyan, Liz McLelland, Danny Young, Steven Wade, William Cox, Winston Clark, Jaelyn May, Matt Conway