Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few months you’ll know that two of ABC’s biggest shows – Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder came together for an epic two-hour crossover episode. The team at Legion has handled all of the visual effects for both shows for the past three years, so we were doubly psyched for the opportunity to combine our efforts in this highly-anticipated episode.
Our work on the episode included blending the VFX of both shows, building the Supreme Court Building that was central to the storyline, and extensive environments and set extensions work. Watch a reel of our work and take a look at some of the coverage of our work on the crossover episode below.
“Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder are both shot in Los Angeles, while the shows are set in D.C. and Philadelphia, respectively, yet the cast never needs to leave Hollywood, thanks to the creativity, technical ingenuity, and experience of the team at VFX Legion.
“VFX Legion has handled all of the visual effects for both shows for almost three years and is slated to work on the next season of Murder (this is Scandal’s last season). Over the years, the Shondaland Productions have tasked the company with creating high shot counts for almost 100 episodes, each matching the overall look of a single show. However, the crossover episodes required visual effects that blended with two series that use different tools and each have their own look, presenting a more complex set of challenges.”
“The Los Angeles-based company created a mix of photorealistic CG environments and other effects that made it possible to transport the actors into a variety of digital surroundings that seamlessly match the live-action footage, and defy the viewer’s eye. The invisible effects dramatically augment the shows’ visual landscapes with shots that would be either too expensive or impossible to shoot on location.”
“The CG replication of the US Supreme Court Building is central to the storyline. Building its exterior facade, and interiors of the courtroom and rotunda digitally, from the ground up, were the most complex VFX shots in these episodes.”
“A rough 3D model of the set was constructed from hundreds of reference photographs stitched together using Agisoft Photoscan, and a technique called ‘photogrammetry.’ HDRI panoramas and 360° multiple exposure photographs of the set were used to match the 3D lighting with the live-action footage. CG modeling and texturing artist, Trevor Harder, then added the fine details and created the finished 3D model.”
“The process began during preproduction with VFX supervisor Matthew T. Lynn working closely with the client to get a full understanding of their vision. He collaborated with Legion’s head of production, Nate Smalley, production manager, Andrew Turner, and coordinators Matt Noren and Lexi Sloan, on streamlining workflow and crafting a plan that aligned with the shows’ budgets, schedules, and resources. Lynn spent several weeks on R&D, pre-visualization, and mockups. Legion’s end-to-end approach was presented to the staffs of both shows during combined VFX meetings, and a plan was finalized.”
“Scandal is shot on an ARRI Alexa camera, and How to Get Away with Murder on a Sony F55, at different colour temps and under varying lighting conditions. DP preferences and available equipment required VFX Legion to shoot the same environments twice, once with green-screens for Scandal and then again using blue-screens for How to Get Away with Murder.”