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.
For a third round Millennium Creative Group’s Cliff Pia partnered with Engine Room to produce the fourth and fifth installment in the national Reynolds Wrap campaign that has been boosting sales of the popular food wrap product across the country for the last 18 months.
Partnering with Circle One advertising of Connecticut, the three-way creative team has been working to make all the spots fun and humorous, through both performance and visual design. This has resulted in a series of inspired shoots bringing ER’s brand of expert art direction and casting together with a fantastic production crew.
ER and Millennium Creative Group have collaborated on close to a dozen commercial and web spots over the last several years. Of the tight MCG/ER relationship, Pia comments, “You can’t find a more professional or a more client friendly production partner in Hollywood than Engine Room. I trust them with any technical challenge and as important, with any client. Professionalism, Honesty, integrity, and good people is a hard combination to find these days, but Engine Room has all of the above.”
The feeling is mutual from everyone at ER; who view the relationship with MCG as among its best. “We shine brightest when we have the chance to shape projects all the way through the production process,” reports ER principle and live action DP, Dan Schmit. “Our clients appreciate and rely on our focused attention to detail which we impress upon every aspect of our work”.
Breathing new life into a household brand like Reynolds Wrap can be a difficult challenge. The fact that clients like Millennium and Circle One keep coming back for more demonstrates how collaboration with Engine Room can bring success to any production task, no matter how tricky.
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.
Engine Room creative directors Dan Schmit and Michael Caplan tapped their new lead designer Todd Ingalls to spin the main title design for Comedy Central’s new sketch show Key & Peele. The highly promoted weekly show takes the 10:30pm time slot between TOSH.0 and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Former MADtv players Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele star in the hysterical new series and worked closely with the Engine Room team along with the show’s producers to help develop the graphics-rich main title concept.
A highly choreographed green screen shoot produced by Engine Room along with a stylized design treatment take the comedians through a fast paced look at a sampling of the kinds of characters they portray on the show. The shoot involved running the talent through a series of wardrobe and make up changes, starting and ending each scene with a transitional pose, that leads to the next sequence. In 20 short seconds they go from being sports fans to gang bangers to surgical doctors to finally resolving as zombie killers.
Ingalls, who was the former lead creative designer at Intralink, joined Engine Room full time last December. In the K&P open, he masterfully wove the artful piece together into a seamless show open that perfectly sets the tone for the highly creative new series. By using Engine Room to produce the design, shoot and post for the open, Comedy Central and the K&P producers were able to take full advantage of everything the hybrid studio has to offer.