Pixomondo creates worlds and makes ‘The Orville’ come to life each and every week. Seth MacFarlane’s brilliant sci-fi show stands apart because of the top-notch FX, making the adventures of Captain Ed Mercer and his crew real for the viewing audience.
Pixomondo is a visual FX company with an impressive resume of films spanning drama, sci-fi, adventure and horror. Chances are you have seen their work in The Amazing Spider-Man, Star Trek: Into Darkness, The Hunger Games, Game of Thrones, and the critically acclaimed Hugo.
Not only do they have the sci-fi and fantasy genres covered, but they are now one of the wizards behind Seth MacFarlane’s hit sci-fi comedy series on Fox, The Orville. They did the effects for some of the sweeping vistas and battle scenes in the critically acclaimed episodes, Identity Part 1 and Part 2. Here is a showreel from Pixamondo demonstrating some of the amazing visual effects they produced for the Season 2 two-parter.
At SCIFI.radio, we were thrilled when the company provided us with a previsualization video giving us a glimpse into the behind the scenes process of what it takes to make The Orville come to life each and every week.
According to Supervisor Matt McClurg, the company previsualized over “1400 unique shots” for the series 13-episode season. Their work serves as a prototype for not only the action sequences and composition but played a pivotal role in setting the overall look and feel of the show, including how the ship itself is designed and lit.
Fans of Seth MacFarlane know how meticulous he is in how he wants his vision presented. Pixomondo helped him translate what he saw in his head onto the screen.
McClurg says that the time frame for shot production was “1 year- beginning with the writers’ room and extending to just a few weeks prior to each episode’s airing.” Typically, the Pixomondo team would start with an FX Supervisor and 3 artists, but much like what happens in the creation of video games, personnel would be expanded to meet the needs of each episode’s layout phase.
Visual FX for television has to happen at a much faster pace than it does for motion picture work. Where a single shot might go through twenty or thirty iterations for a motion picture before it’s considered screen ready, a television show typically has only a few weeks to come up with something that looks good enough to broadcast. Pixamondo’s work on The Orville takes sort of a hybrid approach. Their production pipeline is actually a lot closer to the way motion picture effects houses work than television, and this makes sense, because most of their work has been in the realm of theatrical film effects. On The Orville, they do their work in far fewer iterations because of the time scale involved, but they still participate in the planning for each season’s shows and have months to figure things out.
This video showcases Pixamondo’s work for Season 2. Notice how the final edit doesn’t differ all that much from the previs (previsualization).
As with most effects production houses these days, Pixamondo works primarily with Maya for modeling and animation, ZBrush, Nuke for compositing, Houdini for effects, and a smattering of other tools. Significantly, they also work a fair bit with Unreal Engine and create a lot of stuff for virtual reality, including the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. Could an Orville game be in the offing? If it is, Pixamondo may be bidding on it.
The talent behind this show is staggering. It is the perfect collaboration of artistry and attention to detail that allows viewers to escape into other worlds and feel as if they are exploring galaxies with Captain Ed Mercer and his crew. In the ever-changing landscape of network television, this is the reason why The Orville will stand the test of time.
Are you a fan of The Orville? What did you think of the previs video? Let us know in the comments below. We want to hear from you.