Making gotham city
COSA VFX’S Joseph Bell sheds some light on creating the gritty realism of Gotham City…
How COSA VFX created Gotham
Ashow like Gotham: Rise of the Villains lives and dies on selling its characters, so COSA VFX had its work cut out when it was asked to build the biggest personality: the city of Gotham. “COSA’S shots run the gamut from subtly ‘Gothamising’ real-life New York City locations to creating 100 per cent computer generated buildings and environments,” explains executive producer Joseph Bell. “The exterior of Arkham Asylum, for example, was filmed outside a real hospital in Staten Island, and then extensively modified by adding CG roofs, sculptures, and weathering. As the series progressed, COSA built CG assets for more and more of the location, until we had the ability to create entirely computer-generated shots of Arkham featuring dynamic camera moves, without any practical photography.”
While perhaps not containing the same volume of VFX shots as Warner’s The Flash, Gotham still packed an impressive 1,500 VFX shots across the first season’s 22 episodes – and Season 2 has continued this intensive run. Sometimes this has meant building upon real-life shots, but other times, it’s meant generating entire CG locations from scratch to add depth and an authentic atmosphere to the show’s dark tone. “The show has a gritty, naturalistic feel that requires seamless and convincing visual effects,” says Joseph. “We’ve tried to set and sustain a very high bar in terms of the quality of the imagery, sequence after sequence, week after week. If we’ve done it well, the audience won’t notice some of our best work, because it looks so real.”
Working on a episodic TV show poses unique challenges. The scripts for future episodes are usually written just a few weeks before the finished ones are due to air on TV. Flexibility matters, so the team at COSA turned to ftrack.
“An episodic TV show like Gotham is like a marathon made up of sprints,” says Joseph. “Workload fluctuates constantly from one episode to the next, and the visual effects team is prepping one episode even as they’re starting work on another and finishing a third. It’s great that ftrack enables us to assign crew to Gotham – and all our shows – in a very flexible way. It’s also great for tracking the smallest details on the largest projects, which is exactly what a season of Gotham needs. Explore COSA VFX’S work by visiting www.cosavfx.com
We had the ability to create entirely computer generated shots of Arkham…