VFX For TV: 'The Librarians'
Issue: April 1, 2015

VFX For TV: 'The Librarians'

In 2004, TNT introduced TV viewers to librarian Flynn Carsen (played by Noah Wyle), hired by the Metropolitan Public Library who discovered that the establishment was actually protecting a range of historical and often magical items in a secret section. The made-for-TV movie, The Librarian: Quest for the Spear, spurred two sequels and most recently, a television series on TNT starring Rebecca Romjin. In the same vein as the successful film franchise, The Librarians find themselves in a series of adventures, often times facing mythical creatures or being transported to amazing places.

According to compositing supervisor Jeremy Nelson of LA’s Flash Film Works (www.flashfilmworks.com), his team relied on a combination of Blackmagic Fusion, NewTek Lightwave, Saphire plug-ins and Adobe Photoshop, working on DPX files to create much of the VFX shots they worked on in the show’s first season.

“For this show, we did a lot of set extensions, matte paintings and green screen,” he says. “[The lead characters] are in a central hub, the library, where they can go to other dimensions and other places. Our 3D artist, Don Meyers, created a 3D revolving door that [the characters] open up by spinning a globe. The door spins and when it stops, [the characters] can go through it, walking through something like a membrane or a bubble.”

Nelson also describes a moving staircase they created for the show, that was all 2D matte painting with a couple of comp tricks. One episode, which had the central characters squaring off with a Minotaur, required some VFX assistance. To help add a bit of life to the creature, which was mainly created with practical makeup, Flash Film Works added eyes “so there wasn’t a dull void,” Nelson says. His team also needed to create a series of dents made by the Minotaur as it tried to punch its way through a door, as well as on a truck that hit it.

The team also relied on Lightwave to turn a table-top, science fair volcano to a more, life-like form. “It transitions from on-set practical volcano with fake lava to real-looking lava and acting like an actual volcano with explosions,” Nelson explains. “We used Real Flow for this, to make the actual lava flow and then went into Lightwave for textures. We used some stock footage for the top view of the volcano exploding.”