During our recent webcam chat (watch above) “The Man in the High Castle” VFX Supervisor Jeff Baksinski reveals how he was hired to work on this Amazon series that imagines life in 1962 America had the Nazis won WWII. “We ended up taking a whole bunch of old airline commercials,” he says, “and stringing together airplanes flying over New York, but then we totally Nazi-fied and Germany-ied the entire place.” He then, “bought an old television on Craigslist, and then we comped the entire commercial into the old TV, and we did a pullback where you see a German soldier watching this,” against a backdrop of Nazi-occupied New York. It’s this kind of out-of-the-box thinking that landed him the job, and his first Emmy nomination.
Baksinski worked on the pilot of this Phillip K. Dick adaptation, and much of his efforts involved creating cityscapes of New York and San Francisco almost entirely from scratch. “We had a lot of architecture books,” he explains, “and there were two reasons for that, honestly: the first reason was trying to figure out what modern buildings would have to go away,” and the second was, “figuring out what 1962 Times Square would look like, but what would never have been built, or what would Germany have built differently?”
For this veteran of both film (“Titanic,” “The Grey”) and TV (“True Detective,” “Castle”), there were also numerous little details that were essential to selling the period. For example, “we had to change all the lines in the roads, because of course, every street you shoot on nowadays has modern crosswalks. So all the roads you actually see in the show have been replaced.”
After his 20-plus years in the business, Baksinski is spurred on more than ever by the need to create quality work on both mediums. “Let’s face it, the audience has gotten a lot smarter with visual effects,” he declares. “They don’t want anything that looks like a video game anymore. So I do think that’s a big change in our industry.”
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