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CBS VFX Ignites ‘Fire County’

The visual effects team delivered 135 shots across the series’ episodes combining actual pyrotechnics with digital flames to showcase the many different and terrifying forms that fire can take; the CBS primetime series returns January 6 with all-new episodes.

Led by visual effects supervisor Colin Strause (Rampage, San Andreas, The Avengers), CBS VFX delivered key visual effects for the new CBS primetime series Fire Country, from Jerry Bruckheimer Productions and CBS Studios. The VFX team of 100+ people delivered 135 shots across every episode of the series, which returns tomorrow, January 6, with all new episodes.

Fire Country follows Bode Donovan (Max Thieriot), a young convict who is given a chance at redemption by joining a prison-release program in Northern California where prisoners fight fires alongside elite fire crews. Visually, the show features fires ranging from small brush blazes to wilderness infernos.

To make fire into a palpable antagonist and to showcase the many different and terrifying forms that fire can take, the work from CBS VFX incorporates elements, sometimes including actual pyrotechnics, filmed on set under controlled circumstances. Although set in Northern California, the series was shot in British Columbia – where extremely dry conditions mostly prevent the large-scale use of physical fire.

“Each kind of fire, whether it’s a little brush fire or a huge forest fire, has its own library of footage,” explained Strause.” He went on to note that shots of real fire are combined with an enormous library of flames that have been amassed and cataloged. “Fire is notoriously tricky to create on screen, but there have been huge advances in simulation software for making fire, including the Houdini software from SideFX and the newest graphic cards and processing systems. Only a few years ago, what we’re doing would have taken days or even weeks, but now we’re able to do massive shots in a couple of hours – sometimes even overnight.”

This series is the latest in a range of projects for CBS VFX, including One Perfect Shot for HBO Max and ARRAY Filmworks; a virtual-production solution to COVID-related challenges for The Drew Barrymore Show; and special productions for the 2021 MTV Movie Awards and NCAA Final Four.

CBS VFX has developed technology and created visual effects for multiple series across many networks, including Apple TV’s Roar, The Offer for Paramount +, This Is Us on NBC, Netflix’s Dead to Me, and Big Shot on Disney+. Additionally, it maintains a dedicated virtual production soundstage with its team available to television production professionals for live demonstrations of virtual production, digital set extension, and real-time previs technologies.

Source: CBS VFX

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Debbie Diamond Sarto is news editor at Animation World Network.