FRANK HERBERT’S CHILDREN OF DUNE
THE SPECIAL VISUAL EFFECTS
Ernest D. Farino won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Special Visual Effects for
Frank Herbert's Dune. "After all the hard work that went into the first Dune
miniseries," he says, "it was gratifying for the visual effects crew and myself
to be awarded an Emmy. Many from that team worked together again on Children of
Dune. It is also gratifying that we were encouraged by the producers to go even
further with the design and quality of the visual effects for Children. In some
cases, we were able to accomplish certain effects for Children that were only on
our wish list the first time around.
"In fact, work on the CGI related effects commenced four months prior to
principal photography, which allowed us to create some extensive effects and
backgrounds that might not ordinarily be possible from a time standpoint."
Farino adds, "This miniseries also features some of the same characters, such as
Baron Harkonnen, who returns as a ghost to haunt the mind of the now grown-up
Alia. The sand worms are of course back. There's a very elaborate sequence where
a giant worm is trapped and captured, which I've been told is pretty spectacular
and not often seen on original TV programming. This miniseries also has a very
different look because the VFX team worked with a different director (Greg
Yaitanes) and a different cinematographer (Arthur Reinhart). It has an extremely
exotic visual feel."
Per Mr. Farino, his team's biggest challenge on the new miniseries was to
find a way to visualize Leto II's capacity to run at super-speed. His other new
challenge related to the physical growth of the city of Arrakeen itself. "We
expanded the city's detail and scope," explains Farino. "In the first mini, our
establishing shot was a matte painting of the palace inside the shield wall.
This time we've built the entire city in 3D on computer, and its scope has been
expanded consistent with the long timeline of the story. It's far more elaborate
in execution. Plus, by doing the city in 3D, we can fly over the city, adding a
dimension that expands the scope of the visual imagery."
The actors were also challenged by the demands of the special effects. Farino
explains, "It takes a lot of acting skill to play effectively against a special
effect that has not yet been created. There are times when the script calls for
specific reactions or interactions. For example, Alice Krige, who plays Jessica
Atreides, has a couple of scenes in which she engages in "the weirding way," a
process that supposedly allows the practitioner to move faster than time, so we
needed a blurred movement between one position and another. Alice is also a
dancer and we worked very closely on the particular kinds of body language and
movement that were required to give the visual effect of the excitement we
needed. She really nailed it."
Women of Dune