‘Foundation’ VFX Supervisor Chris MacLean On Using A Cinematographer’s Approach To Create “Realistic” Effects – Visual Effects + Screen


“We kind of live in Candy Mountain on Foundation, because visual effects have such an important role in the show,” said VFX supervisor Chris MacLean at Apple TV+ and Deadline’s Visual Effects + Screen event.

MacLean has been with the series for over four years, back when he was working on the first season. “When we started on season one, we started with real space,” he says. “We wanted it to be more realistic. Then, we started looking at [Isaac] Asimov covers and tried to bring a little more color into the world.”

MacLean said production is done on season two, and he alluded to the strong possibility of a third season. It should be noted that Apple has not yet greenlit season three.

Although the visual effects play an important role in the series, MacLean says the most important job is to “make sure everybody doesn’t pay attention to what we’re doing. Even though they think it’s a cool shot, they don’t think its a visual effects shot.” The goal is a difficult one, but he says the key is “making sure it looks like something that can be photographed,” and then taking a cinematographer’s approach to the scene.

With a sprawling universe to create in Foundation, MacLean says they need to use “every kind of shot conceivable in visual effects” for the series, with the exception of blue and green screen. “That’s an aesthetic choice, because we’d rather get the natural color than ‘de-spill’ stuff.”

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Even with the large amount of technology used in the series, MacLean says they didn’t create any new innovations. Instead, he looked more towards older technology to get an “analog feel” to the visual effects. “[We] try to bring it back to reality a bit, because you can end up make impossible looking shots if you’re not trying to ground things.”

Check back next week for the panel video.

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