Imagining a 1920’s Atlantic City: VFX in Boardwalk Empire

Scorsese’s new HBO series strategically incorporates VFX 3D animation into its big budget set design of Boardwalk Empire.

VFX is used to stand in for things like buildings, deer, billboard ads, window reflections and scenic shots of the beach’s horizon from the boardwalk.  Months of work/research/design.

In a clip on the show’s website, VFX producer Dave Taritero says their biggest challenge was “keeping the seasons correct.”  Shooting the pilot during the summer, when the plot has the scene set in the dead of winter, meant turning green trees into a bare snow speckled forest.

From NY Daily News online:

“Instead of using traditional paintings for the backgrounds, Brainstorm is using the latest software to create 3-D models of the hotels, piers and mansions of Atlantic City. Those models can be rotated and repositioned to allow for trickier camera shots – unlike 2-D paintings, which only work with a fixed camera angle.” Read more from NY DAily News…

As far as more “traditional” set design goes, the production reportedly put $5M and 150 tons of steel into recreating the boardwalk.  Read more from WSJ…

The blue-hughed half of this photo is the VFX half…

Very cool interactive feature to explore the Boardwalk Empire set…


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