‘House’ portrayal of presence

[This week’s episode of the series House featured an interesting portrayal of characters immersed in a vivid virtual gaming environment, as well as a patient who believes that the nonmediated ‘real’ world has become the gaming environment; details are in the press release below from BusinessWire; the beginning of the episode is available in HD at Amazon.com; the full episode will be available on Hulu on October 6, and the episode will be shown on USA Network in the U.S. on October 11 at 11:00 PM EST]

September 29, 2009

Encore Hollywood Builds Unprecedented Visual Effects for House’s ‘Savage Scape’

HOLLYWOOD–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Fox’s unique medical drama, House, is known for innovative storylines and far-out visual effects and the show’s sixth season is no exception – offering some of the most ambitious situations to date. The third episode of the season, entitled “Epic Fail” which aired Monday, Sept. 28th, follows a videogame developer who loses touch with reality and seems to inhabit the dangerous and gruesome world of an immersive game called “Savage Scape.”

Encore Hollywood created the visual effects for the episode, displaying a level of sophistication and fine detail rarely, if ever, seen to this extent on series television. In three separate scenes, “Epic Fail” immerses viewers inside an all-3D-CGI world – a world set in a bizarre laboratory, out of an alternate dystopian future, populated by strange mutations.

House Visual Effects Supervisor Elan Soltes approached Encore Hollywood as soon as he learned about the game concept, just four months before the airdate, to discuss how to create what would become six minutes of pure CGI for the fictional game “Savage Scape.” The visual effects team at Encore collaborated with House writers, producers and the episode’s director, Greg Yaitanes, to develop elaborate, multilayered looks for a video game that doesn’t really exist. “I knew that if we were going to be constructing a video game for the show, we’d have to get started right away,” Soltes recalls. “In the real world of gaming, the development process can take three or four years.”

“Epic Fail” was an unprecedented challenge for Encore Hollywood, which has provided visual effects over the course of House’s six-season run creating visceral images of patients’ internal organs that no real camera could capture and adding other visual elements that keep viewers surprised.

The massive undertaking involved motion capture as well as more than 15 artists working in Autodesk packages 3D Studio Max and Inferno, as well as eyeon Fusion, among other tools, to build the multilayered environment required to bring the world of “Savage” and its chimera-style mutant characters to life.

“These ‘Savage’ sequences presented us with a tremendous opportunity to demonstrate what our visual effects team at Encore can do, and we were excited tackle this amazing challenge,” says Tom Kendall, Encore Hollywood Executive Producer for Visual Effects.

Concept Artist Christian Scheurer worked with Soltes and Kendall’s team on concept art to get to the point where everyone was involved on the same visual page. “Christian has done a lot of work with video games,” says Soltes. “In fact, he went on to work for George Lucas on the next Star Wars game. But we didn’t go looking for people who worked in the gaming industry. Those people are used to taking years to do this stuff and I needed artists who were used to turning around high-quality work on an extremely tight television schedule.”

That is what Kendall and the staff at Encore Hollywood—including 3D Supervisor Rodrigo Washington and 2D Lead Compositor, Dave Neuberger—were able to accomplish. “A lot of shows in today’s economic environment try to plan without many visual effects,” Kendall explains. “They might do a set extension or some driving comps, which we do plenty of. But it’s a testament to the producers of House that they’re willing to go all out and do something so elaborate for their audience. And Encore Hollywood is proud to be part of that.”

House is from Heel and Toe Films, Shore Z Productions and Bad Hat Harry Productions in association with Universal Media Studios. Katie Jacobs, David Shore, Paul Attanasio, Bryan Singer, Russel Friend, Garrett Lerner and Thomas L. Moran are executive producers. House airs Monday nights at 8pm/7pm CT on FOX.

About Encore Hollywood

Providing top-tier service since 1985, Encore Hollywood specializes in digital workflows (DiTV) and visual effects for episodic television, MOWs, commercials, music videos and feature films. In addition to House, television credits include ABC’s Castle, FOX’s Past Life, CBS’s NCIS, FX’s Nip/Tuck, HBO’s Entourage, NBC’s My Name is Earl and others. Feature Film credits include Zombie Land, Casino Royale, Evan Almighty, Spiderman, and Talladega Nights, to name a few. Encore also offers a fully equipped Digital Intermediate (DI) Theatre, feature HD dailies and feature marketing services. A combination of award-winning engineering, state-of-the-art technology and some of the most respected artists in the industry makes Encore Hollywood’s post production house a one-stop destination for high-definition and standard-definition telecine; digital intermediate; on-line editing; and visual effects (2D and CGI). Encore Hollywood is part of Ascent Media Group, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ascent Media Corporation (Nasdaq: ASCMA).

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