WARNING: SPOILERS ARE KEPT TO A MINIMUM, BUT THERE ARE SOME!!!!
Tonight’s episode pushes the HEROES story forward on several levels. Peter meets a mentor, invisible man Christopher Eccleston http://imdb.com/name/nm0001172/ Hiro meets “The Big Boss” who may be behind it all! (And fans of sci-fi synergy get a major treat!) One of the series regulars is revealed with a new power (one which may seem small now but will play out in a big way at the end of the season!!!) And Claire makes contact with her birth mother (Who is pretty hot! :o)! )
The episode was directed by Terrence O’Hara http://imdb.com/name/nm0641343/ I originally hired him for SMALLVILLE because of an awesome X-FILES episode he did. He’s a super nice guy, efficient, visual and great with cast. He’s a favorite on SMALLVILLE, and has done eight or ten episodes. I thought he’d fit in well here also.
DIRECTOR TERRENCE O’HARA
TERRENCE, THOMAS AND HAYDEN IN THE BURNT TOAST DINER
This episode was another one of the handful that was designed to be smaller budgetarally. Most of the show shot in or around our sound stages with only 1 day and one scene shot “out.”
For instance the entire Hiro storyline was shot in the parking garage where our crew parks. We dropped a huge blue screen for one angle and we matted in an NYC city street in the background. It was kind of a pain in the butt because we had to park the crew 2 blocks away and shuttle them in that day. I thought the director and the Stargate VFX team did a good job of putting it together… Especially the shot which dollys with Hiro and Ando as they walk away from the ticket booth and tilts them up the stairs.
The scene on the NYC city street at night where Peter first meets and confronts the invisible man was filmed in one night in downtown LA. The original plan was to have only a very little bit of that scene in episode 12 and most of it in episode 13… But in the editing bay Tim Kring decided he liked going all the way up to Chris Eccleston choking Peter in episode 12 and then reprising most of that scene again in 13.
A very interesting thing in this series, that I’ve certainly never experienced before, is the vast flexibility of how we tell the stories episode-to-episode. Sometimes we pick up stories right where they left off, actually reusing previously shot footage. Sometimes we re-shoot scenes that have been previously seen, using new angles to tell new nuances. Sometimes we “park” a story and don’t come back to it for 2 or 3 episodes. It’s both enormously freeing and challenging creatively.
One of the big challenges of this episode was, how do we tell the story of two invisible people, who can see each other, but who can’t be seen by the public, in the middle of a downtown New York street. Tim never wants this show to lean too heavily on visual effects, and is always looking for the more human way to tell the stories. And in this case, even if we did want to go VFX heavy… what would they be? If we made Milo and Christopher look transparent amongst the other people they’d look like ghosts. We talked about ways to switch between visible to invisible on camera, but worried that that would tell the story that they were transitioning back and forth instead of staying invisible in and amongst other people.
In the end, after much discussion, we decided to try to “double-cover” lots of the scenes, seeing it sometimes from our characters points of view and sometimes from the world’s. Frankly, this episode became a learning experience. We made a couple of mistakes. One was not using the exact same angles when we transitioned from Chris and Milo struggling and knocking over the table, we change angles to a slightly wider view as the table they bumped is knocked over. This moment isn’t as visually clear as I wish it was. Also, I don’t think we hired enough actors (as opposed to extras) to react to the invisible struggle. The first cut seemed confusing… Can people hear them even though they don’t see them? We improved this a bit in post by adding dialogue, but we could have done better to see more specific reactions from the street people.
I think you’ll see at the beginning of the next episode (#14) how we greatly improved these problems. TV is a learning medium on many levels.
MILO AND CHRISTOPHER ECCLESTON
We also built a new major set for the series, which makes its debut in this episode. It is the rooftop of the Deveaux building. That’s right, the rooftop of the building where Simone’s father lived and died and where Peter first met Simone.
In upcoming episodes this will be scene in the past, the present and the future. In it’s glory, in mild disrepair and in destruction. Of course, the Deveaux roof is in downtown Manhattan – so how do we achieve its look?
During this episode’s prep we had a spasm of financial responsibility where we decided not to build it at all and to rewrite it to Isaac’s loft. Another, more minor spasm, where we decided to build it on stage – but build it mostly surrounded by close-in walls and a very minor blue-screen. And then we did it the HEROES way. We built a 1,200 sqaure foot set, elevated 12 feet off the ground, surrounded by a 300 foot wide 40 foot high blue screen which can only be adequately shot by using a 50 foot techno crane. And then, when all is said and done 80% of the shots are visual effects shots where we matte in New York City in the background… Day and Night!!!
Like I always say “HEROES, IT’S LIKE A TV SHOW… ONLY BIGGER!”
OUR NEW SET: THE DEVEAUX ROOF
IT TAKES TWO DP’S (JOHN ARONSON AND NATE GOODMAN) TO NOT BE ABLE TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO SHOOT THIS BABY
SET DETAIL – IT’S ALL ABOUT THE DETAILS
D.P. JOHN ARONSON
JOHN ARONSON PRECISELY MEASURES A SET WE’RE BUILDING ON LOCATION
Well, that’s it for this week. Hope you like the episode.
Next week… The adventure continues!!!