“My greatest accomplishment with this show is that nobody has really noticed our work.”
Geoff Scott has a pretty rad job as a VFX Supervisor at Intelligent Creatures here in Toronto. He also has a pretty rad dog who helped out the show Orphan Black by letting them use her (to make a fake dead dog look more realistic) in episode 1 of Season 5 (his dog isn’t actually dead, they’re just really good at their job). Here’s some pictures showing what it looked like before and after they applied the visual effects. At the end is a picture of Geoff with his adorable pup!
Geoff: Technically I’ve been working with Orphan Black for 6 years.
Me: How would you describe the show to somebody who’s never watched it?
Geoff: How would I describe the show to someone who’s never watched it? I would describe it as the story of a young drifter who finds out that she’s part of a large ongoing conspiracy about the implications of genetic copyrights and patents and ownership.
Me: Would you say it’s more technical or artistic or elements of both?
Geoff: One of the greatest aspects of the job is the beginning, working with the actors and directors to help design the sequences and the scenes with very little to start. So that sort of feels like a massive artistic component that I need in my life. By the end of it I have to make sure it looks so real from a technical perspective that hopefully nobody notices that I’ve done anything. So it’s both. It’s both art and craftsmanship.
Me: When you look back at some of the earlier episodes, can you see the improvements?
Geoff: Absolutely. Not so much from a technical perspective, I still feel very happy and confident with the quality of visual effects from 5 years ago which is saying something. But where you see the massive technical leaps in purely a level of complexity. Every season we end with something that at the beginning of the season, I didn’t think was possible. And then the next season we’d start at that level of complexity. And only build more and more. It got more complex.
Me: How would you describe your first few years working on Orphan Black?
Geoff: The first year I knew we had something great. My fear was…nobody else would see it. That a lot of people would just dismiss it as… “Canadian Television”. And the first few years with any project there’s always this sort of uncertainty whether or not you’re gonna be asked back. Between seasons 1 & 2 we had a meeting, we had a post mortem in the beginning of season 2 where they wanted to see if we could do anything better and so I looked at the shots and we delivered something insane like, almost 300 shots. And there were two that I was “mehh could be a bit better” but 99.4 % happy, that’s amazing! That’s a win! It was good… it was good, it was a bit unnerving at first, until you sort of realize how much excellent work had been done.
Me: Who is your favorite out of all the clones and why?
Geoff: I don’t have a favorite clone, I can tell you who my least favorite clone is. That’s Helena, that’s because Tatiana, up until Season 3… she would stay in character. So you know Sarah’s cool, you feel like you can go for a pint with Sarah. Alison reminds me of, you know, my mom…kind of. Cosima is the cool hippy chick that I could use to score… But Helena would just kill you and I really did not like working with Helena. And it was like working with a completely different person. Yeah it was not cool. Like there was a point where I’m just like… I’m gonna get stabbed if I get too close to this person. But completely different! It was… unnerving. So yes my least favorite is Helena because I was worried about my physical health.
Me: What has been your favorite moment or episode of the series so far that you’ve worked on?
Geoff: My favorite episode… I really liked 4.10 which was the last episode of last season cause we gotta have two clones beat the living snot out of each other. And any episode with Donnie, Kristian Bruun is one of the funniest people.
Me: What about visual effects or design work on the show do you find most interesting or fun?
Geoff: The funnest is actually designing the sequences or was designing as we’re in the last days of the last episode. Designing the clones scenes with the directors from the beginning is the most exciting part of it. Planning it out, you know, running it through with Tatiana and Aaron Morton the cinematographer…tweaking it, refining it. The part I like least is the doing it after the fact. The guys here are really good at the laborious amount of work that goes into it… my heart goes out to them. They put that much work into it here.
Me: What has inspired you personally as a visual effects artist?
Geoff: Ahh Star Wars! I was 4 years old when I saw Star Wars, I went through a brief phase where I thought I wanted to be an actor because I thought you got to play with monsters and aliens. I thought they were real. And then one of my parents said “no, no it’s uh Special Effects”, it was special effects then, it’s now visual effects. “If you wanna do that, you know you gotta do this.” Okay Boom Done. That was it. So yeah… 40 years ago. F*ck. Yeah 40 years ago almost to the day…. Sh*t that’s weird. Yeah 40 years ago almost to the day is when I decided I wanted to do this.
Me: Are you sad that season 5 is going to be the last season?
Geoff: Yes…No, I am saddened not just because of the quality of it, but because of the quality of the crew and the quality of the cast and the quality of the team here. And the lack of ego’s and it’s just been an absolute gift, and I’ve been working in visual effects for 20 years and it is rare to find that in a cast and crew. I am incredibly happy because they’re ending really strong, as opposed to ending very um… where they do that thing where they tack on another two seasons just to make money and drag out a story line that isn’t there. So I’m happy that John and Graeme have stuck to their guns and are making a very concise strong story.
I hope you enjoyed reading today’s post, comment if you have any questions or just want to add something 🙂
Season 5 of Orphan Black airs at 10:00 P.M Saturdays on BBC