The futuristic dystopia of Apple TV Plus’ “See” is a world in which the population, or at least 99.99% of it, is blind. The first season begins centuries after a virus swept the globe, killing most in its wake but leaving the rest without sight, only to pass that trait down to future generations. The show was filmed in Vancouver, a very well-known backdrop for today’s television audiences. In order to fully enhance the world, visual-effects supervisor Adrian de Wet and his team utilized approximately 3,000 effects shots, in addition to some of the stunts between warring society factions the Payan Kingdom and those who live in the forest within the world of the show.
What attracted you to “See”?
What attracted me to this was what would this mean visually because you have an entire culture that hasn’t seen for so long that they’ve forgotten culturally what vision even is and how would that look? Exploring that idea was so exciting to me because every single person needed a blind-eye effect. That was going to involve a lot of VFX because [director Francis Lawrence] didn’t want to use contact lenses. If he did that, he would need someone on set installing contact lenses. There were soldiers and lots of extras doing battles. We had close-ups and so we had to do the blind-eye effect on every single one and that’s why it was a huge undertaking.
How do you balance time when you have so many details to work on?
It’s a TV show and it’s cascading VFX. You’re in prep on one episode and in post on another. It’s really hard to manage, but I was fortunate that I had Eve Fizzinoglia as a visual-effects producer. She had experience and she had done this so many times before, so she knew how to schedule all of this and she kept me in check and made sure I had done all the creative stuff that needed to happen in post before the next episode. That was the thing about working in TV, it was about getting all the pieces to fit in the puzzle in a way that fits into the bigger picture.
What were some of your favorite shots that you helped put together?
In Episode 1 our heroes escape and have to cross this ravine with a rope bridge and there’s this torrent of water. It’s all VFX: there was no ravine, no forest and no cliffs. There was hardly any mist and fog. There was a rope bridge that was three or four feet off the ground with a blue screen underneath it. It was all effects.
How did you want to harken back to the present in this very futuristic world?
The show was set 600 years in the future with the premise that nature has taken over completely and there’s very little evidence of the landscape left; nature has crept back in the world of “See.” We did want a few artifacts of the present day. We wanted that to have the same feel as the end of the “Planet of the Apes” movie when you see the Statue of Liberty was on the beach. In Episode 4 they are on a raft, these concrete structures are sticking out of the water and it’s not obvious until we have the overhead shot that you realize it’s a street with houses on it and they’re covered in vines and you recognize them as housing structures. We wanted that to be evocative of a futuristic world where sea levels have risen so much that it obliterated this town. All that’s left are these things of this civilization that is long gone.