Creating Unreal VFX and Gameplay to The Chi Season 4

“The Chi” is one of Showtimes most popular and downloaded shows, portraying realistic characters and their lives in the suburbs of Chicago, so it’s vital that everything feels authentic.  Season 4 required new challenges which meant delivering 100’s of diverse and realistic VFX shots that needed many unique approaches achieve great results. For Season 4, we were required to perform complex removal work, realistic blood and weapons' FX, environmental FX and extensions with lighting changes, beauty augmentation etc.. Production also required us design and composite convincing TV broadcasts, security feeds, phones, videogames, social media feeds and literally everything else with a screen!

Creating a AAA Game at Warp Speed!

We needed to quickly design and develop a convincing "AAA" video game title that would prominently feature in several episodes.  Creative Director Leslie Allen utilized his previous video game design expertise using Epic’s Unreal Engine and Autodesk 3ds max to create something truly uniquely fun. The gameplay rapidly moves across a virtual city's rooftops with characters animated using of keyframe and motion capture. Active gameplay elements were coded using Unreal Engine’s Blueprint. 1 & 2 players versions of the game were outputted as a video loop to work seamlessly with different takes.

Creating Screen Content that looks Right!

Making TV News look real and Immersive Social Media Posts requires a lot of work as viewers know when it doesn’t look quite right. One of our key strengths is broadcast design so we try and keep it genuine with correct proportions and careful composites.  We integrate Social Media in a more immersive way that feels more active than passive like a TV..  

Keeping it Cool

During shooting Season 4, Chicago’s snow melted much quicker than expected, so we needed to add convincing slushy and ploughed CGI snow to master shots and  the surrounding areas to help maintain continuity. Aerial shots were 3D tracked with CGI snow blanketing rooftops and down to street level.  Other layers of low cloud, steam venting from buildings were added together with an additional color pass


Visual Effects Season 3

We came on to The Chi for Season 3 and delivered approximately 200 photo-realistic 4K - VFX shots. All our work is seamlessly integrated and never distracts from the stellar performances.  The show's use of real locations meant the a host of complex large scale crew and production equipment removals and environmental replacement work.
Many shots required actor additions including partial body reconstruction and clothing replacements, complex "body art" removal and body beauty augmentations,, epic day for night conversions with digital relighting, 3D-tracked CGI fire, smoke, steam and water FX. We utilized our broadcast design experience to give scenes a more cinematic look when featuring communicating via text messaging, together with more integrated and realistic ways of displaying screens on phones, computers and TV screens that had been missing on previous seasons. It was a great collaborative experience.

Burning it Up!

Because of tight production schedules, we decided to bring in CGI fire, smoke and steam using a combination of Fume FX, 3D tracking and interactive re-lighting. many scenes are just single shots that are over 2 minutes in length which required large amounts of roto-scoping and rebuilding, as actors go back and forth. One scene need the actor to carrying CG clothing that is set on fire. Other shots needed interactive "dope smoke" or digital bathroom steam with dripping water vapor being added to mirrors and shower tiles to help sell the look.

Digital Re-Lighting

One storyline needed us to cut the power and turn everything off to achieve a realistic blackout. We started by 3d tracking an aerial shot of the city and progressively taking out each area of the power grid, but keep traffic visible. For street shots, we performed elaborate day for night conversions by dialing down and flattening most of the existing color, tracking and painting out hotspots.. All Vehicle lights were rotoscoped and brightened to pop out, especially emergency vehicles. The streets were enhanced by adding Interactive re-lighting such as candles, flashlights, signage etc.

Re-Building a shot

The narrative of many scenes in season 3 required reconstruction by using a combination of different takes or the insertion of actors from other shots. Complex removal work is also necessary to rebuild the backgrounds before actors can be put back in. Some shots required a rebuilding and re-timing an actors arms to get the shot to feel right. We also handled dozens of large scale crew removal shots from roads, glass and interiors.
These shots help illustrate Cinergy Creative's ability to execute work to aid productions affected by Covid 19 shooting guidelines.