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VFX/Animation Emmy Winners Laud Work

A few of last months 58th Annual Creative Arts Emmy Award-winning teams discussed their work for ROME (Outstanding Special Visual Effects for a Series), THE TRIANGLE (Outstanding Special Visual Effects for a Miniseries) and BEFORE THE DINOSAURS (Outstanding Animated Program For Programming One Hour Or More).

Commenting on episode one of HBO/BBCs ROME, overall visual effects supervisor James Madigan from lead house The Senate in the U.K. said, I am delighted that our work has been recognized by such a prestigious body. I had the good fortune to work with a team of very talented artists and I am immensely proud of everyone. I look forward to producing some equally exciting effects for series two. In total, The Senate delivered more than 320 shots across the first series of ROME. Throughout the episodes, the scope of effects ranged from ancient architecture and bloody gladiator battles to garden extensions and subtle wound enhancements. The team is presently working with HBO again on series two, currently being filmed in Romes Cinecitta Studios.

Meanwhile, vfx supervisors Marc Weigert and Volker Engel, who also produced SCI FI Channels THE TRIANGLE, discussed the uniqueness of their company, Uncharted Territory, as well as some of the challenges of the miniseries. Weigert explains, We arent a visual effects company. Volker and I come on as producers of a project and set up for each project that we do basically, setting up a visual effects house from scratch. It means literally buying all the hardware, all the software and developing our own tools and then getting all the people in as freelancers and at the end of the project, we sell it all and then move onto the next one.

Engel added, For our management purposes, we break everything down by sequences. No matter where they are located in the script, we break them down so they fit together in terms of sequences. Like anything that takes place in a storm, we put it all together and we tried to have the same people working on it. Its small teams, though. At our biggest, we had 29 artists 16 compositors and 12 3D artists. When you only have that many artists, you cannot afford to build teams that only work on certain sequences, but wed always try to have one 3D artist and one compositor that wed team up together and they would develop the look of something.

Six of the Emmy-winning vfx team, including Weigert and Engel, are represented by Digital Artists Agency (DAA), founded by vfx vet Robert Coleman. Those artists are Robin Graham, visual effects compositing technical director; Todd Sheridan Perry, senior CG technical director; Paul Graff, visual effects compositor; and Ben Grossmann, visual effects compositor.

As for BEFORE THE DINOSAURS (U.K. title: WALKING WITH MONSTERS), it continues Framestore CFCs hugely successful series that launched with WALKING WITH DINOSAURS. The three 30-minute programs form a prequel, bringing to life the bizarre beasts that roamed the Earth millions of years before dinosaurs. The new programs, which take us back 245 to 530 million years ago, feature 29 different CG creatures more than ever before to be seen in nearly 600 vfx shots.

Mike Milne, director of Computer Animation at Framestore CFC, joined the production team in accepting the award. It's really gratifying for the team to get this Emmy, he said after the ceremony, Because it means that all three of this series have been recognized by the Emmys. It's a wonderful conclusion to the trilogy.

Framestores longform television team has created the recently aired PREHISTORIC PARK for ITV, and is currently completing work on PRIMAEVAL, an action-drama series for ITV, to be broadcast in 2007.

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Rick DeMott
Animation World Network
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