A show like Outer Banks feels – to fans who aren’t looking very hard, or those who aren’t really paying attention to anything but the characters – like it has absolutely no special effects. It’s just kids in bikinis running around trying (and mostly failing) to find treasure. But there’s a certain magic to our idea that there is no magic. Fangirlish had a chance to talk to Art Codron, the FuseFX VFX supervisor for the third season of Outer Banks, and he was very clear that this notion that there is no VFX – though untrue, feels like a compliment of sorts to him.
“I think of it as a compliment. I think it’s more of a challenge to do seamless effects as there are no sci-fi or supernatural elements to hide behind. If the viewer does not realize there is VFX, I have done my job well.”
Because sure, if you stop and think about it …a lot of the things these kids are doing in Season 3 – the plane crash, finding the gold, even dropping down a helicopter shaft – are not the kind of things actors would be doing in real life. But since there are no outward monsters and this is decidedly not sci-fi, our brains don’t always process some things as VFX.
In regards to that comparison, Codron shared that in Outer Banks Season 3 “the quantity of higher-end VFX work increased,” in comparison to the previous two seasons of the show. “It definitely skewed as a heavier VFX workload vs. many of our other shows.” However, he also shared that one of the benefits of streaming is that, as a team, they had “ more time on a streaming show like this versus some of our more weekly TV episodic work, which we needed to do the complex effects.”
And again, that we aren’t thinking about what’s true and what isn’t is definitely a sign of the type of work VFX artists do, one that goes just beyond the actual VFX. As Codron shared, there’s a lot of research that goes into how to make something people have a clear visual of – and a lot of different research that goes into creating something brand new, like the caves of El Dorado. And it’s way different than creating VFX for a fantasy show.
“We often consult sources such as YouTube, stock footage houses, etc., to provide real-world examples,” Codron explained. “For example, the EP’s had a clip they had found of a real seaplane crash which was very close to what they were looking for in the crash sequence. Not only was it a useful reference for real physics, but it was also a style guideline of what we needed to be aiming for.”
The rest is making a plane crash without making a plane crash and with viewers more concerned about the safety of the characters and what’s happening to Kiara than whether the plane actually crashed.
But as challenging as that sequence looked, it wasn’t the most difficult one for Codron. Instead, that dubious pleasure goes to the whale sequence with John B. and Big John. “It was the most challenging as it involved not only animation for the whale but complex water simulations that worked together with the animation and the practical boat.”
For Codron, and for fans, the most important thing was that everything looked so real that fans could afford to focus on the characters, on the relationships and on the feelings. That’s a win all around, and even more of a reason why we should be thanking VFX workers for what they do to make us able to enjoy the stories we love.
Outer Banks Season 3 is now available to stream on Netflix.