VFX Voice

The award-winning definitive authority on all things visual effects in the world of film, TV, gaming, virtual reality, commercials, theme parks, and other new media.

Winner of three prestigious Folio Awards for excellence in publishing.

Subscribe to the VFX Voice Print Edition

Subscriptions & Single Issues


August 06
2019

ISSUE

Web Exclusive

Making the Dashing Digital Train in DEADWOOD: THE MOVIE

By IAN FAILES

The opening train shot from Deadwood: The Movie.

Deadwood: The Movie, from director Daniel Minahan, is an extension of the HBO television series that ran from 2004 to 2006. Visual effects in the film were largely of the invisible kind, including a scene in which a train passes through a late-1800s South Dakota environment.

FuseFX realized the train completely digitally from practical footage, with several aspects of the landscape also built in CG. VFX Voice takes a visual look at how the train scene was achieved.

For the environment through which the train runs, FuseFX created mountains, trees and a wealth of foliage. “The landscape was carefully modeled in 3ds Max,” says FuseFX Visual Effects Supervisor Eric Hayden, “and the trees and foliage were created and animated using Forest Pack, which is incredibly helpful to create highly detailed and realistic landscapes.”

The train itself was based on a practical train used for shooting other scenes in the film. Houdini simulations were relied upon for smoke simulations, with various forms of small animations and small movements of train pieces added to the final shot. Says Hayden: “We studied hours of footage of vintage steam locomotives, especially footage of trains coming out of tunnels. We also looked at a lot of still images of trains and smoke from trains contemporary to the 1880s setting of the film.”

“Thousands of still reference photos were taken of the practical train and cars,” adds Hayden. “Furthermore, a drone flyover provided the data to create a photogrammetry-based model of the train as a reference model for the artists to use to finish out the model. The model was finished, textured and animated in 3ds Max.”

In this frame, a digital wireframe train appears with the now-rendered track and forest environment. It also shows FuseFX’s smoke simulation. “Creating the perfect texture of smoke is always the most challenging part,” notes Hayden.” The fun was dialing in the exact amount of pyroclastic density based on the reference images to help tell the story that technology is ripping through the landscape and disrupting the serenity of nature.”

For FuseFX, getting a chance to work on Deadwood: The Movie was an emotional moment for some in the studio, since FuseFX had been part of the original series. “It was like a reunion with family and friends after not seeing them for years,” outlines FuseFX founder and CEO David Altenau. “And then doing it in an old familiar meeting place, which was Melody Ranch, once again transformed into the town of Deadwood.”

“The visual effects work really took me back to the long process of defining the look of the environment, and figuring out how to integrate that into each shot. That’s where Eric Hayden picked up the baton. Eric’s enthusiasm and commitment to the project gave me great comfort to entrust him with making it work all over again.”

Watch a VFX breakdown of FuseFX’s work for Deadwood: The Movie, including shots from the train scene.

Share this post with

Most Popular Stories

THE RETURN OF HAND-DRAWN AND STYLIZED EFFECTS ANIMATION
27 September 2022
Exclusives, Television/ Streaming
THE RETURN OF HAND-DRAWN AND STYLIZED EFFECTS ANIMATION
If you’ve noticed that a raft of animated films, shows and visual effects projects have been toying with more hand-crafted effects animation lately, you’re not alone.
LOOKING AT HIS DARK MATERIALS THROUGH THE AMBER SPYGLASS
03 October 2022
Exclusives, Television/ Streaming
LOOKING AT HIS DARK MATERIALS THROUGH THE AMBER SPYGLASS
Extensive creature work sparks fantasy series finale.
FRAMESTORE GOES TO WAR FOR THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER
13 September 2022
Exclusives, Television/ Streaming
FRAMESTORE GOES TO WAR FOR THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER
Thor: Love and Thunder, the Guardians of the Galaxy, the Indigarr battle, a crystal temple and giant goats.
SOUTH AND EAST ASIAN VFX STUDIOS MEET LOCAL AND GLOBAL DEMAND
03 October 2022
Exclusives, Television/ Streaming
SOUTH AND EAST ASIAN VFX STUDIOS MEET LOCAL AND GLOBAL DEMAND
Inside the South and East Asian VFX industry boom.
THERE IS HORROR IN THE CLOUDS IN NOPE
07 September 2022
Exclusives, Television/ Streaming
THERE IS HORROR IN THE CLOUDS IN NOPE
Being conventional when it comes to the horror genre is something that does not apply to filmmaker Jordan Peele
cialis online buy cialis