The epic story was shot entirely on location in China
and highlights the trials and triumphs of the explorer, played by Lost’s Ian Somerhalder.
Anthem created a number of matte paintings for cities and
settings that no longer exist or have developed into modern landscapes,
requiring the removal of many elements. Settings included old Beijing,
surrounding the Forbidden City; the coast of China, complete with pirate ships;
and the Mongolian countryside, hosting numerous army encampments. Anthem also
created a realistic CG pirate ship for a battle sequence and performed crowd
replication for a land battle scene and events at a compound in the Forbidden
In order to portray the massive army of the Kublai Khan,
Anthem cloned the 60 extras and then inserted the multiple clone passes into
the wide plate shots. The studio also researched the historical context of
elements used to recreate Marco Polo’s hometown of Venice and relit greenscreen
shots of the streets of Venice to place the action outside with the sun
Maps of the explorer’s journey were also designed and
created to add authenticity.
The studio used Shake and Maya on the
visual effects for Marco Polo. Anthem
is currently working on more than 1,000 visual effects shots for Tin Man, a six-hour miniseries from RHI Entertainment for
the Sci Fi Channel.