VIDEO: Behind the Scenes of True Blood

December 14, 2009 by  

vampires_on_true_bloodThe irrepressibly enthusiastic host Nar Williams of the channel Science Of The Movies speaks to Zoic Studios about the visual effects techniques used in HBO’s True Blood.

Zoic Studios is an Emmy award winning visual effects company based in Culver City, California. They deal primarily with computer generated special effects for movies, television and commercials. In addition to creating effects for the HBO vampire series True Blood, Zoic’s impressive resume also includes creating visual effects for such popular TV shows as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Battlestar Galactic, Halo 3, CSI, CSI Miami, Firefly (which eared the team an Emmy) and numerous feature films such as, for example, Spider Man 2 and The Day After Tomorrow.

Nar Williams speaks to the visual effects team at Zoic who makes HBO’s True Blood seem as realistic as a nature documentary. In particular, Nar speaks to Andrew Orloff, Zoic’s Creative Director and Visual Effects Supervisor, about their work on HBO’s True Blood.

Nar and Andrew discuss how the visual effects augment the narrative arc, strengthening the build up of the dramatic tension within True Blood’s plotlines. As Andrew Orloff explains,

“You want to feel that it’s a completely day-to-day organic amalgamation of these supernatural powers with the real world.”

Nar also speaks to Steve Meyer, Zoics’ Facility 2-D Supervisor, who supervises the team of compositors. Their work has contributed to making those vampiric features believable and realistic.

In Part 1, for example, Steve Meyer speaks in-depth about the staking of Longshadow in Season 1 of True Blood. This is the first time we see a vampire getting staked and according to Steve Meyer, Alan Ball’s directive to Zoic was,

“just make as gory and as bloody as you can make it”

They also discuss the make-up and visual techniques used to convey the effects of sunlight burning vampire skin. Steve reveals the techniques they deployed to convey the sense of realism when Bill Compton ventures out into the sun to save Sookie, consequently getting his skin burnt at the end of Season 1 of True Blood.

In Part 2, Nar speaks to Jon Massey, Visual FX Supervisor at Zoic. In addition to True Blood, Jon has also worked on Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and Cold Case, among others.

Nar and Jon discuss the digital effects used to create the vampire fangs popping out and retracting in True Blood. Jon explains the differences between the vampire fangs of True Blood and the fangs in other vampire movies and TV shows. He reveals that the fangs True Blood vampires are lateral incisors as opposed to the canine incisors typically seen in other vampire movies and TV shows,

“When you’re trying to bite somebody […] it is a lot easier […] to bite into somebody and actually draw blood [with the lateral incisor fangs]”

When it comes to the vampire fangs popping out or retracting, Jon explains,

“We didn’t want it to be magical. We needed it to be something that was physical and natural. One of the ideas that was presented [was that the fangs be] based on Diamondback Rattlesnake fangs.”

Jon discusses how the physical aspects of vampire fangs resemble that of rattlesnake fangs. The physical anatomy of how the vampire fangs would actually work was also discussed in detail with Jules Sylvester, Wild Animal Trainer and expert on rattlesnakes. After the spine tingling discussion of how these fangs work like hypodermic needles stabbing its victims with toxic proteins, I’m going to look at those vampire fangs in new light and watch my back when I step out in the evening.

Many thanks to Michi for putting the video up on Youtube!


Science Of The Movies via Science Channel (Part 1)

Science Of The Movies via Science Channel (Part 2)

Picture credit: HBO Inc.