By TREVOR HOGG
The Paris apartment explosion witnessed by Jack Ryan (John Krasinski) was created by using gas explosions and demolition references. (Photo: Jan Thijs. Image courtesy of Amazon)
Shifting from the big screen to the streaming service Amazon Prime is Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, the further adventures of former U.S. marine turned CIA analyst Jack Ryan, with John Krasinski taking over the role previously played by Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, Ben Affleck and Chris Pine.
In order to visualize the espionage world originally conceived by author Tom Clancy, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan creators Carlton Cuse and Graham Roland recruited Erik Henry, who has won Primetime Emmy Awards for his visual effects work on John Adams (HBO) and Black Sails (Starz).
“We did have a consultant from the CIA and he was forthcoming with, ‘This is how small that would be’ or, ‘The technology that we have is much better than what you’re seeing on the Internet.’ It was an interesting balance,” says Henry. “A perfect example is surveillance videos. We made sure to give the audience something better than what they’re seeing on YouTube, but not so crazy good that it would take them out of the show.”
A decision was made to shoot the eight episodes for the first season all at the same time with the post-production period lasting six months. “We would ask the editors to cut visual effects sequences quickly, get those in front of Carlton and Graham for approval, and then show them to Paramount and Amazon. That way we could get these things in the pipeline, and start the look development and animation,” explains Henry. “It guaranteed that we had a good amount of time for sequences or shots that needed attention.”
Continuity was not a major issue. “There was a bit of luck in that we did not have a lot of changes,” he adds. “If there was one scene that we experimented with a lot and even added some things that we hadn’t planned originally, it was the opening of Episode 1 with the jet airplanes dropping bombs on the kids’ home in Lebanon.”
There are a little over 1,000 visual effects shots in the show with a significant amount involving wire removals and cleanups. “There wasn’t a lot of reuse [when it came to the digital assets],” remarks Henry. “We would have an episode where they said, ‘We need to have a 737 parked on the tarmac there.’ It was like, ‘Okay, we’ll do that.’ We absolutely modelled a 737, put it into the scene, and it’s a beautiful shot, but it’s the one and only time that we did it. The airport runway scene was shot only 40 yards from the fuselage, so there was a quite a bit of detail that had to go into it to make that look real, including having the sense of dirt or water stains at the corners of windows that you see on planes that have not had a lot of maintenance.”