Many thanks to Diana for the transcript

The Wizardry of this "Warrior Princess"

CNN Showbiz Today
1 October 1999

Dennis Michael reports on the wizardry of this "Warrior Princess."



UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR [Karl Urban as Caesar]: And you, Brutus?


DENNIS MICHAEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Any student of Shakespeare could have told "Xena" fans what was going to happen to Julius Caesar in last season's cliffhanger episode, "The Ides of March." The surprise was what happened to Xena and her sidekick, Gabrielle.

People dying and coming back are fairly common in the "Xena"- verse, but coming back from a season-ending crucifixion called for something more than just a shower scene in the fall. This week's episode, "Fallen Angel" sets something of a record for hour-long television shows.

It has 270 special effect shots of "Xena, The Warrior Princess," carrying the battle on in the afterlife. "Xena" is written and shot in New Zealand, but the special effects are done at Flat Earth in Los Angeles. The reaction to the "Fallen Angel" script?

MARK TAMNY, 3-D EFFECTS SUPERVISOR: Shock at first, and then you start to come up with, you know, a plan to figure out how you're actually going to achieve all the shots, and how you're going to -- how it's all going to come together.

MICHAEL: An example of one shot: Xena as an archdemon on a blue screen. Then you add a painted background, some digital rocky pillars, a squadron of flying digital demons, and after a few hundred hours of work, magic. Some of the shots, like evil Callisto drop- kicking a hapless angel, were delivered on film. Wires were removed, though, and the angel's motion speeded up, even some digital camera motion was added.

TODD VAZIRI, COMPOSING ARTIST: We didn't want it to look like, you know, if this was a real environment that they actually just planted a camera on one of these pillars. We wanted to give you the impression that maybe it was from a helicopter, or some kind of a gliding mechanism or something.

MICHAEL: Some of the flying sequences couldn't be done with real actors on wires, so digital stand-ins were literally drafted to fill in.

MARK KOCHINSKI, 3-D EFFECTS SUPERVISOR: What we deliver is different elements. Like this is Xena flying, and then this is the beam of light that she's flying through, and then when the shot is composited, you can see her flying through the clouds, which are a separate element.

MICHAEL: Some effects that were executed on film in New Zealand had to get some high-tech touch ups at Flat Earth, like archangel Gabrielle's wings, which didn't work on film.

KOCHINSKI: We went into the shot, removed the wings that she was wearing, created some three-dimensional wings that were a bit more animated and then married them to her body for that shot.

MICHAEL: "Xena, Warrior Princess," goes over the top almost every week, but in order to get this high and come back next week, it helps to know some special-effects wizards.

Dennis Michael, CNN Entertainment News, Hollywood.


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