Two independently produced, but critically acclaimed feature films turn to Engine Room for their extensive packages of “invisible effects”. Clothing Designer Tom Ford and Commercial Director Floria Sigismondi were both first time feature film directors, but you wouldn’t know it. Colin Firth was granted an Oscar nomination for his leading roll in “A Single Man”, and who knows what’s in store for “The Runaways” Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning.
Both films were perfectly suited for Engine Room’s boutique style of collaboration as both directors have a meticulous artistic eye for detail. There were other similarities as well; each was a period project that required VFX assistance to set their backdrop.
Working with Tom Ford on “A Single Man” (The Weinstein Company) was a memorable experience for all the artists at Engine Room. His perfectionist vision and creative will both challenged and energized the studio. Engine Room made good on the 120 VFX shots contributed to his film, but not without many entertaining stories along the way. Besides delivering the extensive effects package, the studio’s live action wing also produced several critical insert shoots in support of the film, further demonstrating how ER brings much more to film projects than just CG support.
On “The Runaways” (River Road/Apparition), the story of Joan Jet and her legendary teenage rock band of the ‘70’s, Engine Room delivered close to 80 VFX shots, which included many period recreation shots. These scenes took place at the base of the then dilapidated, Hollywood Sign, which was restored to its current state after the movie takes place. ER’s in-house matte artist Dave Piedra brought an artistic vision to these shots that Sigismondi and the film’s renowned editor Peter Chew were thrilled by.
For both Ford and Sigismondi, their films were absolute labors of love and as independent filmmakers from Nick Cassavetes to John Sayles have discovered, Engine Room matches their passion in its work. The result is a perfect visual effects playground on which to realize the forward reaching vision of today’s independent filmmakers.
The number one cable movie of 2009. 11.4 Million viewers. Five hundred "stunning" visual effects shots. Pretty impressive!
Shot in Puerto Rico, this acclaimed Disney Channel event feature is based on the characters of the hit "Wizards of Waverly Place" television series, now in production on its third season. The show follows the adventures of Alex Russo (Selena Gomez) and her brothers Justin (David Henrie) and Max (Jake T. Austin) as young teenage wizards growing up in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of NYC. There is a lot of VFX magic happening on the show, and the new movie takes that to a whole new level.
The story follows the family on a trip down memory lane to the tropical vacation paradise where their parents first met. In a fit of rage, the reluctant Alex wishes that her parents had never met. The wish is granted and they are thrust into an alternate dimension. The kids find they have only a few hours to fix the problem or they will cease to exist. They take an exotic journey through the island’s remote rainforest in search of the "Stone of Dreams", a mystical wizard relic capable or reversing the accidental spell.
"The interesting thing about this movie from a visual effects perspective was the large variety of shots and sequences. This allowed us to build a diverse global artist team to execute all the necessary elements", says VFX Supervisor Dan Schmit, who was present for much of the filming in San Juan early this spring. As with most television films the post turn-around was very short. "This made some of the bigger more work-intensive 3D scenes like the Jungle Chasm and NYC Subway sequences, a major challenge", Schmit add, "but we still delivered an incredible VFX package on time and on budget."
Engine Room has collaborated on over 25 original Disney Channel Movies and numerous DC television series over the last eight years, but the Wizards Movie was the by far the biggest and most ambitious project yet. Based on its success, there is speculation about a sequel. Having given the show’s viewers an incredible visual effects feast with the first film, who knows where the Russo family’s next adventure will take us?
Last fall Engine Room Exec. Producer Michael Caplan, put on the Visual Effects Supervisor hat in support of the CBS/Warner Bros. new hit series "The Mentalist". The show, which recently reached number one in viewer ratings, follows the story of Patrick Jane, played by Simon Baker, as he works with the California Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on solving high profile cases that require his razor sharp skills of observation. The episodic, currently in production on its fourteenth installment, was recently singled out by viewers in receiving the People’s Choice Award for Best New Show.
"The Mentalist" in-road originated through Caplan’s long standing professional friendship with the show’s Executive Producer Chris Long. Having worked together on numerous episodics together over the years, an Engine Room collaboration was natural. The visual effects work requirements within the production range from creating complex digital matte paintings to the everyday production fixes that every show on the air today relies upon.
While keeping up with the ongoing schedule requirements of a run-away hit has been demanding, Caplan and a focused team of Engine Room artists have enjoyed the work tremendously. "It’s always exciting to work on a show that receives both critical acclaim and ratings success and on top of that it’s truly a pleasure collaborating with longtime friends & colleagues to deliver a great product. We look forward to many more episodes and seasons to come" says Caplan.
Besides CBS’s "The Mentalist", Engine Room provides ongoing Visual Effects vendor services to several new programs as well as some longstanding favorites including: the WB’s "One Tree Hill", Disney Channel’s upcoming "Jonas" which stars the Grammy Nominated Jonas Brothers, Disney XD’s new upcoming series "Zeke and Luther", NBC’s "Chuck" and MTV’s new upcoming reality show "The Phone".
Now through September, HBO is airing an unusual promo designed by Engine Design and executed by Engine Room for the upcoming season of Entourage. Exploring the stylings of a graphic novel, the :60 and :30 second clips follow Vince, Drama, Turtle and E on a jet-set celebrity adventure across Europe before being summoned back to LA by their irascible agent Ari.
Engine Room coordinated a team of high end illustrators with the single goal of bringing Engine Design’s original boards to life for this ambitious and highly visible piece.