Encore VFX Plays in Traffic for 'Banshee'

Encore VFX creates visual effects for Cinemax original series “Banshee.”

The makers of Cinemax original series Banshee wanted to make clear from the start that viewers were in for an intense, action-packed show. In the pre-credit sequence, we find protagonist Lucas Hood (Anthony Starr) being pursued through rush hour traffic on New York's Fifth Avenue as villains shoot at his car. His evasive measures result in a pile-up and he flees his vehicle and attempts to escape on foot through swerving, crashing cars and an unfortunate open-air tour bus that ends up flipped on its side. Encore's VFX team in Hollywood oversaw the delicate mixture of visual effects and live action involved in this sequence.

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Director Greg Yaitanes has been a longtime client of Encore’s from his days on Fox series, House. Encore’s VFX supervisor Armen Kevorkian, would work with Yaitanes and cinematographer Christopher Faloona to plan the shoot. The production had only five hours to cover the live action (using three ARRI Alexa cameras) as the actors ran through a street with a minimal number of real cars.

Back at Encore, his team of 3D artists built the cars--some, such as the ubiquitous taxicabs, from existing 3D models and others, including the unfortunate tour bus, essentially from scratch--entirely with Autodesk 3ds Max. Encore's tracking specialist worked with Andersson Technologies SynthEyes to track all the 3D cars into the live action plates. This was particularly challenging as the main action was covered with handheld cameras whip panning and zooming throughout. Encore's 2D group made use of the Foundry's Nuke to composite the scene together.

“It was an elaborate visual effects job,” Kevorkian notes. “We spent a lot of time on subtleties like reflections to make it all come together. If people say, ‘I didn't know that was a VFX job,’ then we know we succeeded.”

Watch the first episode, below:

Source: Encore VFX