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An original concept developed by Engine Room, National Geographic’s “EMPIRE,” is the fascinating story of two iconic architectural endeavors, the Empire State Building and the new One World Tower which is rapidly taking its place in the Lower Manhattan. For the unique project, Engine Room teamed with Director John Joseph and First Television Producers Mack Anderson and Brett McVicker to produce a documentary special that weaves modern day interviews with recreated historic sequences which transport viewers to a time that forever changed New York’s world famous skyline.

Empire’s original perspective, as told through the developers and ironworkers responsible for these massive accomplishments, reveals an important historic continuum in New York’s development. The story of the Empire State building is a truly fascinating record that can never be matched: In the face of the great depression, using no hard hats or nets, iron workers risked and lost their lives to build the Empire State in a mere 13 months. Empire also brings witness to One World Tower, where safety is the highest priority. Many of the ironworkers on One World Tower have a lifeline to the Empire State built by great uncles or grandparents in the ironwork trade.

“For many people, the Empire State is an incredible monument to achievement and a symbol of a great city built by many unsung heroes” says Engine Room’s Dan Schmit. “For Engine Room, the project marks an exciting expansion into original content development partnerships.”

To bring this story to life, Engine Room utilized animation and visual effects to painstakingly recreate historic sequences that bring the viewer back in time and to the 82nd floor of the Empire State building. Engine Room’s Dan Schmit lensed the recreations and cast the historic actors, and his team built set pieces and produced all of the digital elements needed to depict the many facets of the Empire State construction team. Engine Room tapped Zach Kinny to produce and design the show’s beautiful, deco-inspired main titleBs and interstitial graphics.

The story of the Empire State is interwoven with that of One World Tower, a potent symbol of triumph over adversity built on a sacred site of one of the nation’s most tragic events. Through revealing interviews directed by John Joseph, the developers express both pride and responsibility surrounding the project.

EMPIRE airs Sunday May 20th at 8pm on the National Geographic Channel.


Once again Engine Room has joined forces with documentarian James Younger and The Incubator to produce the graphics and animation for the third season of the Science Channel hit series, Through the Wormhole With Morgan Freeman.

Produced in conjunction with Freeman’s company Revelation Entertainment, Through the Wormhole explores the latest scientific theories behind the biggest topics of all. In the first and second seasons subjects were a mix of scientific and philosophical topics: Is there a Creator?, What is Dark Matter?, Where is the Edge to the Universe? Now in season three the focus is getting even more interesting, and controversial: Is the Universe Alive?, Can we Eliminate Evil?, Is there a Superior Race?

To help illustrate the latest theory’s Engine Room’s VFX supervisor Adam Simpson enlists many of the industry’s most visionary artistic talents. And as digital artists are often science buffs at heart, ER doesn’t have to look far to find collaborators who are passionate about the subject matter.
Setting the series off from the typical dry science doc show, Through the Wormhole producers and directors embraced many different graphic and animation styles throughout each episode. These range widely from photo-real rendered 3D CG to traditional hand illustrated and Flash animation sequences. The intention is to make the often lofty subject matters accessible to a very wide audience. Judging from the ratings jump, it’s working!

From the macro, as in a 90 second continuous sequence showing the Big Bang and all creation, to a micro journey inside the smallest particles ever detected, Engine Room enjoys the challenges required to bring this ambitious show to life. With the next ten episodes currently in production, be looking for more amazing scientific adventures coming from inside the Wormhole this Spring.

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Read how Engine Room brought “Soul surfer” to life at latimes.com.

SOUL SURFER is the inspiring true story of teen surfer Bethany Hamilton, who lost her arm in a shark attack and courageously overcame all odds to become a champion. The film, directed by Sean McNamara, features an all-star cast including AnnaSophia Robb, Helen Hunt, Carrie Underwood and Dennis Quaid. Amazing surfing, moving performances and photoreal effects all contribute to this inspirational film experience.

Bethany Hamilton’s transformation from shark attack victim to top surfing pro makes her nothing short of a real life superhero. But for the story to translate to a film’s retelling, audiences have to accept AnnaSophia’s physical loss as real. To accomplish this challenge, Director Sean McNamara turned to longtime collaborator VFX Supervisor Dan Schmit and Engine Room to lead what would ultimately become 750 intensive effects shots.

“Dan and I have collaborated for many years and have a shorthand that was key to this complex undertaking,” says Director McNamara. “His team was integral to making this inspirational story of a true champion. They solved all of the visual puzzles beautifully.”


Dan and Engine Room EP Michael Caplan provided on set VFX supervision in Hawaii, returning to the Hollywood studio to oversee their core creative team and offsite artist group of highly vetted remote individuals. Working closely with artists from all over the US and as far away as Macedonia, Engine Room tapped expert effects practitioners best suited for each shot including the hundreds of arm removals, torso and background replacements, surfboard color changes, face replacements and more.

Engine Room’s in house artist team, headed by Compositing Supervisors Eric Heavens, Dave Piedra, Paddy Culham and Mary Dowd, tackled the most challenging shots and engineered solutions for the technical challenges inherent in shooting water scenes with moving cameras, multiple surfers and a prosthetic-clad lead. VFX editors Adam Simpson and Ian Shulman kept the massive show organized and the filmmakers constantly up to date with temp effects shots for screenings throughout a long six month editing process.

“To gloriously overcome her disability required amazing reserves of discipline, strength and courage; the fact that they were summoned by a thirteen year-old is truly inspirational,” says Dan Schmit. “We are proud help Sean and his team portray such an incredible example of triumph.”


Read how Engine Room brought “Soul surfer” to life at latimes.com.

Through The Wormhole With Morgan Freeman Through The Wormhole With Morgan Freeman Through The Wormhole With Morgan Freeman

Once again Engine Room has joined forces with documentarian James Younger and The Incubator to produce the graphics and animation for the upcoming second season of the Science Channel hit series, Through the Wormhole With Morgan Freeman. The series has rocketed Discovery’s spinoff network to triple their usual ratings.

Produced in conjunction with Freeman’s company, Revelation Entertainment, Through the Wormhole explores the latest scientific theories behind the biggest topics of all. Is there a Creator? What is dark matter? Is there an edge to the Universe? These are just a few of the ambitious mega-topics explored with Freeman hosting.

To help illustrate the latest cutting edge theories, Engine Room enlists many of the industry’s most visionary artistic talents. Since digital artists are generally science buffs at heart, ER doesn’t have to look far to find collaborators who are incredibly passionate about the subject matter.

Setting the series off from your typically dry science doc show, Through the Wormhole producers and directors embraced the concept of using many different animation styles throughout each episode. These range widely from photo-real rendered 3D CG all the way to traditional hand illustrated and cutout animation sequences. The intention is to make the, often lofty, subject matter accessible to a very broad audience. Judging from the huge ratings, it’s working!

From a macro 90-second continuous sequence showing the Big Bang and all of creation to the journey inside the smallest particles ever detected, Engine Room enjoys the challenges required to bring this ambitious show to life. With the next ten episodes currently in production, be looking for more exciting scientific adventures coming from within the Wormhole…