The small studio Brainstorm Digital is responsible for the amazing digital effects that brought 1920 Atlantic City to life.
Brainstorm Digital is a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based company, with an office in Los Angeles, that specializes in high-quality visual effects, such as those that were used on Boardwalk Empire during the series' first season on HBO last year.
The visual effects studio, with clients ranging from HBO to independent movies, did some amazing work on Boardwalk Empire, and a visit to BDI's Web site (brainstorm-digital.com) will take you on a journey that details some of the specialized visual/digital effects that were used to bring 1920 era Atlantic City to life in the nationally-hailed TV drama, that has been granted a second season and has been nominated for several industry awards.
Until the second-season Boardwalk Empire trailers hit the Web, this may be the only new Boardwalk Empire related video you'll see in a while. BDI has another related video on its Web site, created a month ago, on "Brainstorm Digital's shot breakdowns created for the HBO series Boardwalk Empire."
Shown is the studio's work from original plate to finaled versions for episodes 1-6 in season one.
The blog Ramblin Man Films, which currently links to the latest BDI Boardwalk Empire video, offers the following from a technical perspective:
"Boardwalk Empire‘s fantastic production design is one of its biggest draws, though some viewers might not realize it. The costumes, lighting, cinematography, set design – even the writing and directing – harken back to an age that few living people can remember. On a TV budget (even with HBO holding the pursestrings) this means that a lot of the set design has to be added in later via digital renders and bluescreen technology. There’s an incredible amount of research needed to pull off a period piece successfully, and it looks like Brainstorm Digital is up to the challenge. The Atlantic City boardwalk and skyline have been painstakingly recreated, including vintage buildings and advertisements from the likes of Lucky Strike and Coca-Cola.
"The small studio isn’t a household name like Industrial Light and Magic, but they’ve managed to add some impressive titles to their resume. Brainstorm Digital’s former work includes A Beautiful Mind, Frost/Nixon and both Da Vinci Code films. In 1995, their work on Apollo 13 earned the film an Academy Award nomination for Best Visual Effects. The Brooklyn-based company seems to excel when more subtle effects are required, augmenting existing sets and production designs rather than overpowering them. Their work on Empire might not have had a lot to do with its recent Golden Globe nominations, but it certainly makes the show immersive for viewers, giving the cast an excellent backdrop to play against.
"There’s no denying it: there’s some fantastic work on display here. To get the correct lighting on exterior scenes, the show is shot in broad daylight. With a relatively cramped studio and restrictive on-location sets, adding in believable backdrops to transport the audience into Prohibition America wasn’t an easy task. In the video you can see exactly where the sets are augmented with huge bluescreen walls – on one occasion, a group of painted railroad cars is placed strategically in front of the camera to allow for seamless post processing. And it is seamless: in most of the finished shots, it’s almost impossible to see where the beautiful real-world sets end and the digital background begins. Other highlights include a quick shot of Richard Harrow’s (Jack Huston) scarred, twisted face under the mask and a shot where an entire boat is replaced with the actors preserved inside.
Have a look for yourself.
The video is about four minutes long:
Here is the other video on episodes 1-6, season one:
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The second season of HBO's highly acclaimed drama series Boardwalk Empire, set in 1920s-era Atlantic City, premieres in late September.
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