Have you checked out The Plague? You’d be surprised to learn how many of the sprawling vistas and giant metropolises you’ve witnessed in your favorite TV shows don’t actually exist. CGI technology has advanced far enough to create convincing fake backgrounds on a TV budget, and this is exemplified by Twin Pines, the Madrid-based VFX studio that was recently given the task of resurrecting a completely lost city.
La Peste, translated as The Plague, is the most expensive TV series ever produced in Spain. It’s set in and around the city of Seville, which was a popular destination back in the 1500’s but no longer exists today. Not a trace of Seville is around for modern film cameras. The task in bringing it back fell entirely on Twin Pines and their computers.
“The job of reconstructing the city was formidable given that there is practically nothing existing today of 16th-century Seville,” says Juanma Nogales, who supervised the project. “It required a painstaking process combining historical seriousness with aesthetic taste. And that’s where the collaboration between all the different teams came in: art (Pepe Domínguez), make-up (Yolanda Piña), photography (Pau Esteve), VFX (Juan Ventura, Juanma Nogales), postproduction (José Moyano, Iván Benjumea)…
“Unless everybody is on the same page, working in the same direction, such an ambitious production as The Plague would not have been possible. And the results are there for everyone to see.”
The team wasn’t flying completely blind. In some cases they took photos of existing buildings that would have been common in Seville and digitized them for the city. In one more elaborate case they had to reconstruct the Port of Seville, the most important trade port in the world at the time. They took images of the Guadalquivir river, added CGI ships and crowds, and pulled off an effect that should fool everyone (except those who live around the Guadalquivir).
The results of Twin Pines’ labor are displayed below, in this short vignette. La Peste/The Plague continues to air on Spanish TV and has just been renewed for a second season in 2019.