Aaron Raff, Steven Weigle Interview: ‘The Looming Tower’ VFX

Visual effects supervisor Aaron Raff‘s top priorities for “The Looming Tower” were “accuracy and visual fidelity.” Based on Lawrence Wright‘s Pulitzer Prize-winning nonfiction book, this Hulu limited series starring Jeff Daniels, Peter Sarsgaard, Michael Stuhlbarg and Bill Camp recounts the events leading up to the al-Qaeda terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Authenticity was especially important given the show’s editing style, which would often “cut from one of our visual effects shots into archival footage or news footage from the actual events.” Additionally, “the nature of these events are sensitive, and the goal was not to sensationalize or make anything look extra fantastic past the point of historical accuracy.”

Raff and visual effects producer Steven Weigle point to a particularly difficult sequence — the bombing of U.S. embassies in East Africa — as an example of how the VFX team worked to create the most realistic explosion possible. After planning out the scene at their New York studio, Weigle traveled to Johannesburg, South Africa, to scout the location and gain “a better foundation for the actual shoot.” It was then his responsibility to ensure that the effects were pulled off as safely as possible. This entailed finding a balance between “what we can do practically and what visual effects can help with.”

Raff is a VFX veteran with three Emmy nominations on his resume (Best Movie/Mini Visual Effects for “Mildred Pierce” in 2011; Best Supporting Visual Effects for “Boardwalk Empire” in 2013 and 2015). He and Weigle previously worked together on “The Deuce.”

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UPLOADED Apr 13, 2018 12:02 pm