Getting Bewitched in Eastwick
Adapted from The Witches of Eastwick novel and film, Eastwick is a new supernatural series in which three women in a seaside village wish for dramatic change and become fast friends when their wish comes true. Entity FX (Smallville) handles the vfx and Eli Jarra, the visual effects supervisor, describes some of the environments they've created along with a few other nifty tricks. But first Founder Mat Beck offers an overview:
"The reason we got into the project was because director David Nutter [The Mentalist, Smallville, The X-Files] called and whenever he calls, we answer. He's great to work with, he's super creative and his projects always turn out well. David is an example of a director who extends you to want to do better work. When you're doing a pilot, you've always got time constraints, but one of the things about this show was we had to help build the world of the story and the effects that we did always had to be cool and magical, but they also had to be completely photoreal and believable in the sense that maybe the magic really could have happened or happened for a different reason. That was a major focus, plus making Burbank in the summer look like New England in the fall."
Bill Desowitz: So, what were the basic challenges here for creating the magic and helping build the world of the story?
Eli Jarra: One of the challenges has been making the environment look inviting or threatening, mysterious or sexy, and blending these effects into the show as seamlessly as possible. As Mat pointed out, we have fall foliage sprinkled throughout the town, which resides in New England. And here we are on a Burbank lot, shooting all the plates and making our work look indigenous to New England.
BD: So, how did you accomplish that look?
EJ: We added CG leaves and trees and integrated them into the background plates that were shot. Also, there's an episode where CG butterflies were used to calm an otherwise nervous daughter of one of the lead characters. Little moments like this really influence the storytelling of a scene. In this case, a story point depended on what this butterfly is doing and how our character creates it to better relate to her child.
In terms of some of the other CG work, there's an anthill that produces thousands of ants that attack the character Bun. And we were there to create all of the ants digitally, to make sure they looked threatening and could come out of the anthill and move realistically throughout the ground plane. You’ll see this in the premiere episode.
BD: How did you animate the ants?
EJ: We produced an ant model with the proper IK and replicated the models to the create a multitude of ants coming out of the anthill and marching on forward in a line that is indicative of what you would normally see. But they do have an idea of what they want to attack, so you see this large formation of ants converge towards our unknowing actress.