Tatiana Maslany won an Emmy on Sunday for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her incredible work on BBC America’s Orphan Black.
For four seasons she has played Sarah Manning and a host of her clone sisters. She has played up to 6 characters in one episode and 11 clones so far over the 4 seasons. It is a remarkable acting performance all made possible on screen by visual effects from Intelligent Creatures. Since series one, the VFX have been headed by VFX Supervisor Geoff Scott.
Tatiana works with acting scene partner Katherine Alexandre to produce the complex sequences. While in the show it is sometimes Katherine’s arm or hand in a few shots, Katherine’s role is anything other than simply a body double or stand in. Together with the crew, they block scenes, solve acting problems, and find the truth in these very complex and layered roles. Geoff described this series four finale as extremely complex to act, “Katherine and Tatiana had to do hits, falls and one of the hardest clone scenes they have done.”
We got many great stories fromScott about how wonderful it is to work on the show. For example,Scott clearly gets on very well with Tatiana andm interestingly, she stays in character between takes. He told us that in series one Helana (who is of course also played by Tatiana) scared him so much he tried to avoid having to give her technical notes – he just couldn’t mentally get past Helana to see his friend Tatiana !
One funny story that he told that did not make our video us was about Tatiana (who he calls Tat) losing screen time. Apparently Tatiana did a particularly great take as Rachel and, of course, she was being filmed alone on set for motion control. Later in post, Geoff turned to comment to the Fusion compositor that he “felt sorry for Tat – as she was being blocked upstage in the comp by .. oh wait, …Tat. I felt sorry that Tatiana was not being seen because Tatiana was in shot!”
Intelligent Creatures is a fully Fusion shop and the show relies heavily on detail composite work, since for the last few seasons the show has really dropped the use of blue screen wherever possible. This means complex roto and detailed compositing. To sell each comp, as you can see in the WIRED video, often times there is a mass of lights that cannot be moved between motion control passes and so these require detailed light removal and background replacement. Geoff Scott is a big fan of Fusion and the team relies on it entirely for their 2D-heavy Orphan Black pipeline. While watching the drama it is easy to forget about the visual effects. Tatiana is in almost every shot, often with herself, and some sequences such as the season 2 finale took over 5000 man hours to complete. See more about the work in our WIRED piece above.
Tatiana Maslany characters:
- Veera (MK)
- Beth Childs