Caprica: Where No Battlestar Galactica Has Gone Before
"The show about mid-season completely changed for visual effects because it started off originally with a relatively small effects budget. But as we moved into it, the desire to change the paradigm for the show had us doing more and more effects work. Now, going into the finale, visual effects is running between eight or 10 minutes of screen time in every episode, so we're doing very, very large sequences for virtual reality environments as well as photoreal backdrops.
"For us, it went from being scaled down to: 'All hands on deck; go crazy, we need to do 1,000 shots in the next six months.' To that end, what people will find is that the show is varied -- it is in no way a formula show. The structure of it changes from hour to hour, the tale keeps on shifting: it's complex but the individual shows are self-sustaining."
Indeed, by the fifth episode they will be heavily into virtual environments, which, Hutzel says, entail a film noir touch that's integrated into the show, as he alluded to last year. One of the key backdrops is called New Cap City: "a virtual environment where people go to play a dramatic real life scenario of a rough town, where it's 'kill or be killed'," Hutzel continues. "But in the game, if you are killed, you can't go back. It is similar to life in that once you die, you're dead. So people's motivations become more real in that environment and it's also another way to express human excess so it's a nice dramatic framework and it's very colorful. It uses a lot of iconic imagery from the '30s and '40s to create this environment. It's a fanciful place where the players introduce their own interests. What's interesting is that it brings up these icons and as we move ahead with a new world, which is being created and echoes creation itself.
"Originally, Ron was going to hold off introducing the Cylons. Since then, as the show has come to life and everyone has seen the strong points, he's shifted gears and now we will begin to encompass the rise of the Cylons before the end of the first season. We're moving right into that, which is great for me, because when we first pitched the show more than three years ago and I did artwork, the idea was that the Cylons were already there. Then, it was a matter of figuring out the triggering device that turns them into the enemy. I think when people look back on the first couple of seasons, they're going say this show evolved tremendously.
"All during this, of course, we have a killer robot on the loose -- the U-87 -- so we have these two elements of visual effects storytelling and another difference on Caprica is that we will be able to improve the performances of the robots. Then as we move ahead in the series, we begin to see other colonies on other planets and establish those backdrops and what makes them unique. Right now we're up to about 20 environments. And those environments become part of who these people are. Plus, doing virtual sets for locations that were impossible to get on the schedule that we had also became part of the workflow."