I doubt I'm alone in often hoping that the casts of my favorite shows are all friendly, funny, personable people behind the scenes. Of course, that's not necessarily true. People are always going to be a mixed bag, whether they work in television or some other industry, however in the case of Syfy's Being Human, "great chemistry" applies as much to the actors behind the scenes as it does to their characters on screen, which is why it's always so much fun to get to sit down with Sam Witwer, Sam Huntington, Meaghan Rath and Kristen Hager to talk about the show. So when Syfy mentioned that Being Human was one of two series being showcased at their digital press tour this year, I jumped at the chance to attend. Not only did the cast sit with the press to discuss Season 4, but we also got to see the first eight minutes of the Season 4 premiere, speak with the cast about the upcoming season, and walk through the set of the series, which included a very red version of the characters' house. And by red, I don't mean blood red. I mean surreal-retro red.
This is Part 1 of a two-part set visit feature. Part 2 is here and includes a video of the panel and more details about Season 4! Also be warned that some of the images are kind of disturbing.
Our morning on set began with a breakfast buffet of food and props. While the food included bacon, eggs, sausage and the like, the props included severed vampire heads, silicone babies and Sally's rotting corpse.
Probably not the preferred decor or a bit of breakfast ambiance, but the food was good and I didn't hear any complaints!
After breakfast, we were treated to a presentation by Being Human's make-up effects guy Erik Gosselin, who spoke to us about some of the practical effects for the show. Interesting bits of trivia included learning that there were thirteen babies featured in the series, four of which were mechanical. The baby props we were shown were made of silicone, as opposed to latex. It sounds like it took some getting used to, working with silicone as opposed to latex, but Gosselin says the latter material is heavy with no bounce, translucent and soft. So they're using the silicone more and more on the show. As for what we can expect in Season 4, he wouldn't give anything away, other than to say that something they did for Season 4 is even cooler than the effects they did on skinless Henry.
"Season 4, I can't really say anything about Season 4 except that up to now I thought Henry Muscles was the most complex and coolest one we've done. I think Season 4 last episode we're going to have a better, more complex one than that."
Next up, we heard from Visual Effects Supervisor Jonathan Legris, who showed us some of the things they do to bring the supernatural element of this series to life through digital effects. That included a video showing how they transform Josh into a werewolf, and one that showed us Sally's burning scene. Part of making a special effect work is matching the lighting. That's probably something a typical TV viewer wouldn't automatically consider, but I'm thinking we'd notice if it didn't look right. According to Legris, that takes some planning both on and off set to make the practical effects line up with the digital ones...
"What we need to do is plan the shot prior to shooting it, to be able to have the guys on set add practical lighting, practical wind and all sorts of practical effects that are going to help us achieve a more realistic look afterwards, because if nothing happens on set, you'll always feel that the effects are just pasted back onto it. So there's a lot of planning that goes into how do we make the shot as believable as possible"
Legris says they use a "chrome ball" to match the lighting in a scene to the lighting in the effects they're doing. As I understand it, the ball pulls an inverted reflection of the lighting scheme from the room and reproduces it somehow in their digital effects.