Cinesite Wins Emmy® For Generation Kill Effects

LONDON, September, 14, 2009-Cinesite's work on HBO's Generation Kill won an Emmy® for Outstanding Achievement in Special Visual Effects for a TV Special or Miniseries at the 2009 Creative Arts Emmy Awards, which were held September 12 in Los Angeles. Cinesite's work on HBO's Into the Storm was also nominated in the same category. This is the company's second Emmy accolade for visual effects, having previously been recognized in 2005 for the highly-acclaimed HBO miniseries Rome.

Accepting Emmy statuettes for Generation Kill were Cinesite Visual Effects Producers Courtney Vanderslice-Law, Paul Edwards, and Ken Dailey; CGI Supervisor Stephane Paris; Lead Visual Effects David Sewell; Lead Visual Effects Compositor Stuart Partridge; and Lead CGI Artist Jean-Paul Rovela. HBO's Visual Effects Supervisor Adam McInnes and Visual Effects Producer Antony Bluff also received Emmys for their contributions.

Cinesite created all of the visual effects for Generation Kill, which broadcast on HBO in the summer of 2008, and on the FX channel earlier this year. It has also been announced that Channel 4, which has acquired the UK rights to the series, will likely air the miniseries on terrestrial television before the end of this year.

The seven-episode series, based upon the successful book by Evan Wright, follows the First Marine Reconnaissance Battalion at the spearhead of the United States invasion of Iraq in 2003. The action covers a one-month period up to and including the fall of Baghdad, with the story being told at ground level, from the gritty and shocking perspective of the Marine unit traveling in a small convoy of Humvees. Wright was embedded with the platoon throughout the initial assaults on Iraq.

The production went to great efforts to achieve realism in every respect, filming as much action in camera as possible and using authentic military vehicles and equipment wherever possible. Cinesite worked closely with the production's Military Adviser Eric Kocher to enhance shots where this was not possible and to recreate the epic scale of battle digitally, on a massive scale.

Cinesite's work included the creation of convoys of photorealistic CGI military vehicles, missiles, burning oil fires, CGI attack aircraft, the destruction of Iraqi cities as the allies advance and realistically portraying the colossal resources of the American Army. All of the visual effects were designed to be invisible, so as to not detract from the drama of the historic conflict being depicted.

Fourteen types of CGI vehicles were created in all, each requiring modeling using accurate imagery and technical data, then complex texturing and animation. Procedural systems were written to create automatic vibration and suspension for the vehicles to give a realistic impression of vehicle weight and movement when driving over hills or bumpy ground.

To add further realism, tire tracks from vehicles traversing dusty and impressionable desert ground were added. Even the dust kicked up by the wheels of the numerous vehicles was re-created digitally.

Several key visual effects shots show the scale of U.S. military resources, including a sequence in the first episode that shows Camp Matilda. In one wide-establishing shot, the environment is a 3-D matte painting, with CGI tents created and replicated into the distance, and CGI vehicles and soldiers added.

Another sequence, in episode two, shows the allies advancing their Humvees towards Iraq in a massive convoy of vehicles. The Humvees travels across an overhead road bridge and we see the soldiers' view of a wide superhighway, with a multitude of CGI Light Armored Vehicles, tanks, Humvees and supply trucks. Cinesite overcame many challenges for his sequence of four shots, including digitally creating the environment. Also, the order of the vehicles in the convoy was created as authentically as possible, in careful consultation with Kocher.

Cinesite, known primarily for feature film visual effects, has had notable success for the facility's high-end television work, particularly over recent years. Currently, the facility is working on the highly anticipated remake of the cult classic series The Prisoner (AMC/ITV), which will broadcast later this year.

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