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We love this industry and we love this town. Thanks NY!

VFX Helps Keep THE DETOUR in NY Running a visual effects company is such a pleasure, from the challenge of developing something an audience has never seen before to learning and using ever-changing technologies. Although one aspect of VFX that gets me down is producers concern about how expensive effects can be. It always feels good when we are contacted with the intention to save money by utilizing visual effects wisely.

Recently the team at Mechanism had the pleasure of working on the hilarious TBS series The Detour created by Jason Jones and Samantha Bee. Directed and produced by Jason and Brennan Shroff, the what-in-the-living-hell-is-wrong-with-this-family script called for our ill-fated family to travel from NYC to sunny Florida to tropical Cuba and somehow end up in a frozen mountain town near the arctic circle.

The strategic decision by the production manager, David Bausch, to shoot in Long Island helped to save substantial budget monies by avoiding travel and lodging and keeping the show “Made in NY”.

Creatively making due comes with its challenges but with David’s careful planning it paid off. Episodes needed to be shot out of order, as story’s the trip to Cuba wasn’t till the last few episodes which were slated to be shot in December, but that would be too cold for drifting out to sea on a raft or walking through the Cuban surf. Shifting these sequences several months ahead created many exterior location benefits. To pull off the NY-for-Cuba shoot our team directed by our lead digital compositor, Fangge Chen, used clever visual effects and lots of rotoscoping to change Long Island Sound’s brown water to a beautiful Caribbean blue.

A private island sequence was shot in the courtyard of Vanderbilt’s beautiful Spanish style summer mansion in Centerport NY. We VFX Supervised alongside the fire department to oversee a sequence where a 50-foot statue of Saddam Hussein was to be blown-up with dynamite. I hope we didn’t waste the fire department’s time as the entire explosion was created in post and a CGI replica of the statue was shattered through computer simulations and composited fire.

Keeping the production in New York made it possible for the directors to easily jump back and forth into the edit at Jax Media for in person reviews as opposed to having to settle for phone discussions which can often lose something in the translation.

Additional visual effects included an exploding cow, ocean extensions, rig removal and turning a beach motel into a frozen tundra outpost. The network needed the last few episodes delivered a few weeks early and found a few more water shots to make blue. No problem, we reallocated several artist to the project and cranked the VFX shots over the finish line.  

It’s a great month when we know we kept money in our home town, saw our craft on the screen and best of all made people laugh. We love this industry and we love this town. Thanks NY!

Originally published: 05/04/2017

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