How do you produce an 8-minute space battle (arguably the longest continuous space battle in TV history) that rivals the likes of Star Wars on episodic television? First, you need a maestro in Seth MacFarlane who has often pushed the creative limits of his productions, orchestrating elaborate sequences. But this may be his most magnificent opus yet. With a clear vision, you need the perfect team—Luke McDonald, The Orville’s Visual Effects Supervisor, collaborated with two visual effects houses led by the talented VFX team at FuseFX.
There’s no doubt that the space battle for Fox’s The Orville episode 209 was a VFX spectacle, but the stunning visuals are comparable to any big budget theatrical release. Even more impressive is that the execution came in just shy of eight weeks—an envious position for any production, TV or Film, of this magnitude.
How did the FuseFX team deliver their part of this massive undertaking? Significant credit is due to their in-house pipeline that supports the demands of a high-profile show like The Orville.
“Our biggest achievement was keeping up with the pace. The show is fluid, and we adapt, more importantly, we are nimble enough to keep up with the show’s needs.” – Tommy Tran, VFX Supervisor (FuseFX)
We’ve seen space battles before—how did the FuseFX team make this battle special for viewers? The sheer volume of shots alone speaks to the complexities tackled. The FuseFX team worked on more than 108 shots for the sequence. The number of shots and the quality behind the space battle took an army of inspired and amazing artists.
“We’ve assembled a remarkable team for Orville here at FuseFX, on both the creative and technical side of things. The scope of this season is enormous. It’s very challenging work, but this type of show is why we’re in this industry to begin with. It’s been a pleasure partnering with Luke, Brooke, and their team on the show to produce some of the most epic and exciting visual effects you’ve ever seen on television. Episode 9 [our 208] has what I believe is the largest and most complex space battle visuals ever depicted on television.” – Melissa DeLong, VFX Producer (FuseFX)
“The Orville is an exploration based series that continuously pushes the boundaries of its expeditions throughout space and within its ships crew — our visual effects teams are no stranger to these undertakings. Working alongside FuseFX to deliver groundbreaking photorealistic work within the constraints of a network television show is nothing short of incredible. Utilizing the facilities robust pipeline paired with its unmatched talent base is one of the primary reasons we are able to deliver feature quality VFX in mere weeks. FuseFX has a larger than life presence on our show, but never ceases to provide a personalized boutique experience throughout from concept to final delivery.” – Brooke Noska, VFX Producer (The Orville)
With great work, comes great responsibility—a responsibility that was earned over The Orville’s two seasons. The relationship between FuseFX and The Orville began with only a handful of shots for The Orville’s pilot. As demands and expectations grew for the production, FuseFX was able to rise as one of the main vendors, winning the trust and support of The Orville team.
“FuseFX’s ability to adapt creatively and deliver such amazing quality under extreme deadlines is refreshing. FuseFX’s collaboration, creativity and relentless passion for quality is unmatched.” – Luke McDonald, VFX Supervisor (The Orville)
As the relationship has evolved, Tommy Tran and his FuseFX team have had more creative input and allowed a degree of creative freedom that only time, trust and a final product could afford them.
“It’s an incredibly fun new challenge every week, but this was an epic battle—that rivals anything you may see in any epic space saga. When you’re talking creating a space odyssey, you know what you’re up against and what it’s going to be compared to, so we needed to raise the bar. And after hours of hard work, lots of coffee and an amazing team rallying we put together what I would argue is the ambitious and visually stunning space battle ever made for commercial television. – Tommy Tran, VFX Supervisor (FuseFX)
With the bar raised on Television—what does the future hold for VFX on the small screen? One thing is for certain, FuseFX will lead the way.
Creator: Seth MacFarlane
Executive Producers: Seth MacFarlane, Brannon Braga, David A. Goodman, Jason Clark, and Jon Cassar
Visual Effects Supervisor: Luke McDonald
Visual Effects Producer: Brooke Noska
Tommy Tran – VFX Supervisor
Melissa DeLong – VFX Producer
Kevin Lingenfelser – Additional VFX Supervisor
JV Pike – DFX Supervisor
Matt Von Brock – CG Supervisor
Mike Kirylo – additional CG Supervisor
Nuke, 3ds Max, Houdini, Phoenix
ABOUT The Orville
Seth MacFarlane’s hit space adventure series, THE ORVILLE, is set 400 years in the future, the series follows The U.S.S. Orville, a mid-level exploratory spaceship. Its crew, both human and alien, face the wonders and dangers of outer space, while also dealing with the problems of everyday life.
The ensemble series stars MacFarlane as the ship’s Captain, ED MERCER, and Adrianne Palicki as his ex-wife, who’s assigned as his First Officer. Additional cast members include Penny Johnson Jerald, Scott Grimes, Peter Macon, Halston Sage, J Lee, Mark Jackson, Chad L. Coleman, and Jessica Szohr.
THE ORVILLE is produced by 20th Century Fox Television. The series was created and written by Seth MacFarlane. MacFarlane, Brannon Braga, David A. Goodman, Jason Clark, and Jon Cassar serve as executive producers on the series. Jon Favreau directed the series premiere episode.
FuseFX is an award-winning Visual Effects Studio providing visual effects services for episodic television, feature films, commercials, and VR productions. Founded in 2006, the company employs 300+ personnel across three studio locations: our flagship office in Los Angeles, CA, New York City, and Vancouver, BC.