Entity FX Soars With Smallville Finale Visual Effects
From an Entity FX press release.
Santa Monica, CA, and Vancouver, BC (May 16, 2011) – Entity FX has created visual effects for the series finale of Smallville. The work, which included nearly 80 visual effects to help bring the program's characters and story arc to a close, caps off Entity FX's nine consecutive years of developing and delivering all visual effects for the popular teen Superman-themed show. Smallville “Finale” aired Friday, May 13, as a two-hour special on The CW.
Since taking the reins for Smallville visual effects at the start of Season 2 in 2002, Entity FX has created more than 4500 visual effects shots across the life of the series. From super-speeds and x-ray vision to frozen “Clark time,” contributions of Entity FX artists have brought Clark Kent's emerging superpowers to television audiences while also depicting countless characters and environments — from Metropolis to the Fortress of Solitude. Work for the series was achieved between Entity FX facilities in Santa Monica and Vancouver, with on-set visual effects supervision provided in Canada as well.
“Visual effects were a part of the very first frame of the pilot,” said show co-executive producer Tim Scanlan. “We were deep in space, with meteors flying over camera, and then we see Clark's spaceship go by. And then we go to Earth to meet our characters: John and Martha Kent, Lionel Luthor and young Lex... It set the stage for what the show was going to be.”
“In a comic book, the sky's the limit; you just have to get it onto a 2D page,” Scanlan continued. “On the screen, it's different. You have to find ways – sometimes difficult ways on a TV timeline – to bring this world to life. Working with Entity FX has inevitably allowed us to come up with better ideas and better approaches, and to always keep the quality and innovation up. It's been a great collaboration across their nine years on the show.”
Reflecting back on hundreds of visual effects sequences, the Entity FX team cites a few favorite challenges, including pulling off the first “frozen time” moments, which were new techniques to television at the time, and helping write the “rules” for how effects like super-speeding or heat vision would be established and evolved.
“Designing ways to show Clark's powers and to elaborate on all of the different variations over time has been an interesting and unique challenge,” said Trent Smith, Senior Visual Effects Producer at Entity FX and a veteran of 195 Smallville episodes. “It's been great to put our own twist on the Superman theme. Each episode has had a 'Save Me' moment and we knew we could give it a big impact through visual effects. The relationship with the show producers has been amazing because they never simply said 'This is what we want to do' but 'What are you interested in doing?'”
Nine years of experience – and Entity FX's commitment to innovation with new technologies, have helped the company consistently bring out new types of effects and add value to the show. These have included making advancements with 3D modeling, animation and rendering to turn around fully CG characters like Blue Beetle and Darkseid for a weekly episodic and raising the bar with fully synthetic virtual environments produced at high quality on a short time scale.
From the depths of space to apocalyptic events at home, these visual effects techniques continued to support Clark Kent in the “Finale” episode as he took his final steps to become the Man of Steel.
“Entity FX excels at doing virtual environments and characters and for the 'Finale' we were entrusted to work this magic with some expansive minutes of screentime where little or no photography was filmed,” said Entity FX Owner and Senior Visual Effects Supervisor Mat Beck, who led the overall effects for the series, directed many second unit and visual effects sequences and helmed a full episode of the show in 2007.