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New Deal Studios is where the line between illusion and reality disappears. Come along for a peek behind the magician’s curtain at one of Hollywood’s top visual effects houses. In this Creative Inspirations documentary, find out how key scenes from Martin Scorsese’s film Shutter Island were created, as well as segments of The Dark Knight and Night at the Museum. Using a combination of models, miniatures, computer graphics, and digital effects, New Deal Studios was designed from the ground up to be a place where effects professionals could do their best work, and where filmmakers could have their visions realized.
(Music playing) Welcome to New Deal Studios. My name is Shannon Gans. We have two buildings in Marina del Rey. This building is our stage and digital department, and this building is our workshop and our digital art department. So let's go take a look. We have several sections of this building. It's just a one story industrial park that we've taken over, over the years. In this area, we do a lot of pattern making and fabrication detail.
For example, this is - we're rebuilding the Betty spaceship from 'Alien Resurrection,' and we'll put all the detail here, and then, in our molding and casting department, we'll make molds and casting pieces. One thing to note is we don't just build models and miniatures. We started out doing that 14 years ago, but the creative talents apply to various parts of the industry, such as building sets, we do a lot of props, specialty props, as well as specialty costume pieces. Various miniatures you'll see on our walls and basically, this is what we can keep, things we haven't blown up, that are too big or have gone back to the studios, and in this room, there's more of the main fabrication.
We have a paint department, molding and casting department. This is a main construction area. This is the garbage truck from 'The Dark Knight' and these buildings, which I love and are my favorite, are from a music video, actually. They wanted a Burton-esque town. We are a fairly high tech miniature effects shop. We design everything in 3-D in the computer before we build it in 3-D, physically, out in our model shop. So we have a rapid prototyping machine. It's an inkjet printer, but hot wax, and you can build a 3-D item.
We use various software programs for designing here. We primarily use Rhino and SolidWorks. SolidWorks is an engineering program, and that's for mechanical effects and we can even run simulations on the effects rigs that we're building, to see where the points of failure might be. It works out really well. On the 'Watchmen,' we used that for the falling water tower. So this is our stage. This building was built in the late 50s as a sound stage for a company that did military training films, and so they made films like 'How to Arm an Atomic bomb,' and things like that.
Yeah, and they even had miniatures for simulated training. It was a furniture fabrication company for a short time and then Doug Trumbull brought visual effects to the marina area, and for the past 30 years it's been a visual effects stage. For the lighthouse, we built this miniature rock, which was used as elements we shot inside, outside and on location, whatever was needed, but still, you can see there is a high level of detail here to match Dante Ferretti's designs. So from our stage, we transition into the digital department. We started this in 2004, with just two little computers in this room, and you can see we're a nice, small boutique company.
This room is where we do previz work and planning that works in concert with our digital art department, and then as we go through the process of build-and-shoot, the department will export data to help us with photography and then, in the end, do compositing and animation. We're going to walk you into our screening room and DI suite now. You can see we have miniatures hanging. This is from 'Pitch Black,' and that is from the 'Good Shepherd.' It used to be just a basic screening room for dailies. We had two film projectors, and recently, last year, we took one of the film projects out, donated it, and we have a nice 2K digital.
So as we come to the end of tour, you can see this fabulous hallway. We just finished building this out. It's an office for Matthew Gratzner and Ian Hunter, my two partners. You can see we even have a drafting table, so we'll do traditional drawings and then take them into the computer. Because we can do everything here, from build, shoot, digital, the next transition for us is producing our own content, kind of the production model of Peter Jackson and George Lucas, have a service based company and our production company.
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