In Being Human, Syfy's Americanization of the UK horror series (airing Mondays 9/8c), we still have a vampire (Aidan, played by Sam Witwer), werewolf Josh, played by Sam Huntington) and ghost (Sally, played by Meaghan Rath) living together. However, it's Boston instead of Bristol (though shot in Montreal), and the tone is less terrifying, among other things.
Not surprisingly, the centerpiece of the VFX (done mostly by Montreal-based Oblique Effects), is Josh's CG wolf. The rest of the show's vfx revolving around the vampire and ghost and various victims serve a more supporting role and are far less involving.
But the full-on wolf won't be revealed until the eighth episode, "Children Shouldn't Play with Undead Things," which airs March 7.
The design process began with about a dozen artists trying out different ideas. Of course, there are lots of considerations about depicting various body parts. After some back and forth, the artists took a second pass and the third time around they modify, mixing and matching different aspects more like a Frankenstein monster. In terms of software, they use a bit of everything, including Softimage and Maya. "The example I always give is when we have to motion track a shot, some motion tracking software will automatically track a shot while others won't," Rachiele adds. "You just change a shot and that software will work better for that kind of shot. Again, for animating the wolf, the principal animator uses Softimage because he's used to it.
"The fun part for me is shooting the scenes with the wolf and trying to make everybody else in the scene see what I see in my head: where the wolf is going to be, what he is doing and where the camera is and what motion tracking will have to do, the lighting of the wolf and where the shadows will be cast. It's very hard for everybody to imagine that wolf when we shoot the scene, so it's my job to make sure that everybody sees it."
Meanwhile, the vampire vfx are straightforward: basically eyes turning black when they get upset or the growing of their teeth. When the vampires die, they turn to dust. That will be in the final episode, so they are just starting those vfx. It's a combination of particles and well-planned rotoscoping and some layering in which the outside layer will disintegrate while the inside layer will be dust. But some of them will be a bit more interesting in what we call the "raisin effect." Before they disintegrate, their skin will instantly dry up.
"Most of the big effects will be in the later episodes," Rachiele suggests. "But there's a nice morph in the first episode of Josh when he becomes a wolf, but you don't see the end of his transformation. We zoom in on his face where his nose is very obvious and hair grows into a near werewolf. We cut just before the final stage.
"Another interesting shot is where he's in the woods on all fours and we see his rear and human legs becoming wolf-like. But it's in the middle of the transformation. We built a complete snout in 3D and we motion tracked the actor's face and added our CG on it. Episode 10 will have lots of animation with a wolf fight."
Bill Desowitz is senior editor of AWN & VFXWorld.