Anthem Visual Effects Makes VFX Journey for “Marco Polo”

Anthem Visual Effects recently completed over 100 visual effects shots for ‘Marco Polo,’ a miniseries and feature film produced by RHI Entertainment, announced Lee Wilson, President and Visual Effects Supervisor at Anthem.

‘Marco Polo’ was produced by executive producers Robert Halmi, Sr., Robert Halmi Jr.and Uwe Schott and producers Matthew O’sConnor, Michael O’sConnor and Shan Tam. It was directed by Kevin Connor (‘Blackbeard’) and written by Ron Hutchinson (‘The Ten Commandments’). Shot as a four-hour miniseries, ‘Marco Polo’ will make its U.S. network debut as a three-hour movie June 2 on the Hallmark Channel. The miniseries will air internationally in various countries.

The epic story was shot entirely on location in China and is a compelling exploration of the trials and triumph of one of history most famous, yet enigmatic figures. Ian Somerhalder (‘Lost’) plays Marco Polo, the 13th Century Venetian trader enlisted to accompany a pair of priests to the court of the fabled Mongol warlord and despot of the mysterious East, Kublai Khan, played by Brian Dennehy (‘Cocoon,’ ‘Our Fathers’).

Anthem created a myriad of matte paintings for cities and settings that no longer exist in the present day, or have developed into modern landscapes (requiring the removal of many elements that did not match the old world time period), including 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. The studio also performed crowd replication for a land battle scene and events at the Khan compound in the Forbidden City. In order to portray the massive army of the Kublai Khan, Anthem cloned the 60 extras supplied by Production, and then inserted the multiple ‘clone’ passes into the wide plate shots. The final result was dynamic, colorful crowds numbering in the thousands.

Anthem researched the historical context of elements used to recreate Marco hometown of Venice and relit greenscreen shots of the streets of Venice to place the action outside with the sun shining.

The studio designed and created the maps of Marco journey giving them an authentic appearance appropriate to Marco day and age but also incorporating modern signifiers for the understanding of the audience.

Anthem is currently busy creating more than 1,000 visual effects shots for ‘Tin Man,’ a six-hour miniseries from RHI Entertainment for the SCI FI Channel. Anthem also recently created effects for RHI ‘Son of the Dragon’ miniseries (set to air in 2008 on the Hallmark Channel) and completed over 130 effects for the third installment in director Dario Argento horror trilogy ‘The Third Mother.’ The studio produced hundreds of visual effects shots for the first two seasons of IDT Entertainment ‘Masters of Horror’ series for Showtime, as well as for New Line Cinema ‘The Butterfly Effect 2.’

About Anthem Visual Effects
Vancouver, B.C. based Anthem Visual Effects was founded in 2004 by President and Visual Effects Supervisor Lee Wilson, CFO and Visual Effects Producer Lisa Sepp-Wilson, and VP and Digital Effects Supervisor Sebastien Bergeron. Anthem inaugural project was the Hallmark/SCI FI Channel miniseries ‘Legend of Earthsea’ for which the studio delivered over 200 visual effects shots and went on to receive a 2005 Emmy nomination for Outstanding Special Visual Effects For a Miniseries, Movie or a Special.

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