Photo Courtesy of Jamie Poh

Productions in Vancouver – Synthesis: Season Zero

Space, the absolute final frontier. Okay, maybe not. But this series is picking up where Star Trek left off, because when it comes to space adventures, they never end. Everyone knows that’s because there’s so much out there to explore you may never find it all, and also because ever since Disney bought out two major companies (and will most likely buy every other one in the future), space and newfound Star Wars series like The Mandalorian have been exploring the new horizons of imaginative writers and computer generated graphics. Meanwhile the telescope at my window shows me the same old Orion belt and nothing more. But enough about that, let’s talk about Synthesis: Season Zero. Created by Amy Fox and Wren Handman of Trembling Void Studios, Synthesis: Season Zero is a series about a non-profit organization in space, called the Synthesis Foundation. Unfortunately the Synthesis Foundation hasn’t been the most efficient in getting funded, and it hits especially hard for the crew of the Starling, a small ship that goes on all kinds of adventures with one mission in mind: To unite different worlds in the Galaxy. But there’s a much bigger issue that comes with the mission of unity and that’s making sure the team can unite themselves because they have a lot of issues with each other, and the bigger problem of saving important people and doing very risky daring tasks. So to some, it may sound like a done concept, but to me, it’s a cool new idea, with cool new technology and cool new things to expect thanks to the help of Unreal Engine, and while sci fi series always find cool new ways to thrill us, maybe this one will show us that space is FUN. As of now, Synthesis: Season Zero is stated to be the largest virtual production in Vancouver. How about THAT?

As a matter of fact, I’ve visited this set myself. Shooting at Emily Carr University, it was not just an opportunity for students there to brag about witnessing, but also allowing some to take part and learn the future of filmmaking. Personally, I’ve learned that’s it not your average green screen scenario or your old fashioned set made entirely from scratch, it’s a revolutionary new tactic using Unreal Engine, motion sensors, and some type of projection on an interesting new wall. The camera gave an interesting VR look as it projected many viewpoints, and so far it’s doing well at replacing locations. Instead of going out scouting for spots, everything can be filmed in a nice air-conditioned room with less hassle. However setup can still be pretty elaborate for both graphic designers, and grip department as they have to make sure the graphics and the lighting is perfect. Then with the help of video game software, it’s smooth work from then on. All they needed was a camera, and some software of digital files showing many cool locations. Shots included Scenic tree BG’s with blue skies, Northern Lights with mountains, and some other cool stuff as well. But it wasn’t all CG, there was some real props used in the production including a rock covered in fake snow, and an expensive looking statue/lantern. Synthesis: Season Zero had a very special way of working with shots, by doing as very little pickups as possible. It may also be starting a new type of production style, revolutionizing film work, and being able to change locations at the press of a button. It may be smaller depending on location, but it will be easier for those who don’t want to freeze while out in the real areas. It may just even expand Canadian filmmakers, and soon even more sci-fi productions or other productions will be using this software.

Who knows? If there’s intelligent life in Vancouver that can make this kind of content, that may mean we can make other kinds of content and many more new ways to make movies. Let’s see what the future brings…


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