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Creative Arts Emmy Visual Effects Contenders Wow Viewers With Mind-Bending Images

Creating the past and the future is all in a day’s work for these expert artists

The X-files Creative Arts Emmys
Courtesy of Fox

As the golden age of television continues, so does an era of spectacular visual effects for the small screen aimed at creating a theatrical-level experience.

From shows like Syfy’s “Childhood’s End” and Fox’s “The X-Files” that deal in science fiction, to AMC’s more subtle “Better Call Saul,” powerful vfx are among the tools for capturing an audience in a sea of programming.

For Amazon’s “The Man in the High Castle,” effects were used to drape swastikas across urban buildings. “We had to think about what the Nazis would do if they were in New York,” says Dan Percival, helmer of the series. “The tallest, most impressive structures you see are ones they added to put their stamp on the city.”

Series like Netflix’s “Daredevil” and Starz’s “Black Sails” also deal in augmented realities as they traverse New York and New Providence Island so superheroes and pirates can wage their wars.

HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” Syfy’s “Childhood’s End” and Fox’s “The X-Files” all deliver journeys into total fantasy as they create dragons, aliens and spaceships.

“I knew there would be a lot of pressure on that opening shot,” says William Powloski, vfx supervisor on “The X-Files,” of an alien spacecraft crash scene. “And creator Chris Carter is very sensitive to the look of visual effects.”

Powloski also worked on a four-and-a-half minute vfx shot in AMC’s “Better Call Saul” that was based in part on the opening sequence of Orson Welles’ “Touch of Evil,” in which Charlton Heston crosses the U.S.-Mexico border.

“In our shot, a truck comes across the border and people pass in front of the camera that are used as wipes,” says Powloski. “We also had to add trucks and border structures. Much of what we did is invisible. With the exception of a tweet from Guillermo del Toro, not a lot of people talked about it, which is a big compliment.”

Pictured above: “The X-Files”