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A ‘Deadwood’ Emmy Nod for Visual Effects

FuseFX has been nominated for two Emmy Awards for two television projects it did this year. The Van Nuys visual effects company was nominated in the Outstanding Visual Effects category for work on “The Orville” and in the Outstanding Visual Effects in a Supporting Role category for “Deadwood: The Movie.” David Altenau, co-founder of the firm and its chief executive, called working on the “Deadwood” film, which aired on HBO at the end of May, a project close to his heart as he worked as visual effects supervisor on the television series that appeared on the cable network from 2004 to 2006. For the film, HBO brought back the ensemble cast, which included Ian McShane, Timothy Olyphant and Gerald McRaney, as well as the crew. “It felt like it was coming full circle and almost like a family reunion in getting back together after all this time to do the show,” Altenau said. “It was a huge bonus getting the Emmy nomination for that and it’s closure for what I think of as a 15-year process from the beginning of the project.” FuseFX’s work on the show included a lot of set extensions and creating the environment in which the town exists. It also did ancillary effects, such as adding snow and creating the nub of the missing finger of McShane’s character, the foul-mouthed saloon owner Al Swearengen. In the context of the show, the town of Deadwood itself is a character and so the FuseFX team, which included supervisor Eric Hayden, contributed to one of the primary characters on the show, Altenau said. The movie was shot at the Melody Ranch, out in the Santa Clarita Valley, and so there was essentially California blue skies behind all the buildings. “It changes the feel and the composition of the shots when you fill those backgrounds with pine trees and the hills of South Dakota,” Altenau said. “It contributes to the texture and feel of the show.” The use of visual effects in the film fits the supporting role category, he added. “There should be no conscious recognition of any digital augmentation or visual effects work in ‘Deadwood,’” Altenau continued. “You should just feel like it’s there and it supports the look and feel of the town rather than being front and center.” For the “Orville” nomination, the FuseFX team, led by VFX Supervisor Tommy Tran, created an 8-minute battle sequence. “It’s just a massive effects sequence that took upward of 50 people to work on over a period of time,” Altenau said. “It turned out real spectacular and that is sort of the centerpiece of the episode.” Show creator Seth MacFarlane said it was worth noting that “The Orville” was working with a fraction of the budget of the other shows that were nominated. “The fact that this extraordinary team of artists achieved what they did speaks to their massive talent and dedication,” MacFarlane said in a statement. The Emmy Awards will be presented Sept. 22 at the Microsoft Theatre in downtown Los Angeles.

Mark Madler
Mark Madler
Mark R. Madler covers aviation & aerospace, manufacturing, technology, automotive & transportation, media & entertainment and the Antelope Valley. He joined the company in February 2006. Madler previously worked as a reporter for the Burbank Leader. Before that, he was a reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago and several daily newspapers in the suburban Chicago area. He has a bachelor’s of science degree in journalism from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
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