Smallville Takes Final Flight
"When we first introduced heat vision, it was something Clark could not control. Eventually, he learned to control it, and over the years we've fine tuned and even changed the style of the heat beam. Initially, we always started off with just doing more of a heat distortion -- a wave of air -- coming from his eyes. Over the years we've moved it with the traditional view of Superman with his heat vision; more of a traditional red color. And that's both an evolving stylized view of the show and a progression of his powers. Nowadays, we do a red beam with heat distortion and hints of fire. Sometimes he'll do a full-beam for more strength, but sometimes when he's trying to hide his powers, he does more of a heat bullet that melts an object."
As for synthetic environments, Entity FX has been able to take advantage of technology improvements, better stylization and an immense library of assets the company has created. "As these environments have evolved, we've seen Clark grow and spend more time at the Daily Planet and more of our storylines have been generated around the city," Smith suggests. "Along with the visual effects side of it, production over the years decided that many of the shows were going to be based in Metropolis, so they built a small set in Vancouver completely dedicated to Metropolis. It's our own Metropolis back lot. So we have built full digital cityscapes on top of that. Our CG version also includes set extensions since the physical buildings are only about three-and-a-half stories tall."
"For me, a personal favorite was a meteor shower from 'Commencement' in Season four. As originally scripted, there was a scene where a meteor hits a fuel truck and the truck runs out of control and is about to careen into a little child amid all the chaos. And Clark comes in and saves the child. In editorial, once everything was shot and coming together, the executive producer, Ken Horton, didn't feel the jeopardy, and, in trying to figure it out, we came in and offered a possible solution that had an iconic image of Clark saving this little boy. I suggested the idea of removing the truck and adding a meteor that's about to come down and land on the boy. Within four days of the show's airdate, we recut the scene and turned it into two separate events, with the second one an all-CG world with the meteor and Clark shielding the boy from the meteor crashing down on him. It was very exciting to work that closely with production and they were extremely happy with the way it turned out, and I was even more excited when that shot became part of the opening title sequence the following season."
Bill Desowitz is senior editor of AWN & VFXWorld.