All episodes of season one of "Gen V" are now streaming on Prime Video.
The college-set show, which is a spin-off of "The Boys," utilizes plenty of VFX.
VFX supervisor Karen Heston spoke to Business Insider about how the "Gen V" team created the visuals.
Plenty of TV magic, or rather, VFX greatness, goes into making Prime Video's unapologetically gory, raunchy, and jaw-dropping series "Gen V."
"Gen V," a spin-off of the hit superhero satire show "The Boys," centers on characters at a Vought-run college known as Godoklin University.
In a recent interview with Business Insider, VFX supervisor Karen Heston broke down how various visuals for the show were conceptualized and executed, from Marie Moreau's (Jaz Sinclair) blood-manipulating ability to Luke Riordan/Golden Boy's (Patrick Schwarzenegger) firepower.
At the start of the series, Godolkin University freshman Marie Moreau uses her own blood as a weapon.
She does this by cutting her palms and manipulating the movement and direction of her blood.
By the end of season one, Marie taps into another side of powers and weaponizes the blood of others, instead of harming herself.
Marie's powers were created by the VFX team.
Heston said that she wanted Marie's blood power to have a feminine quality.
"I wanted it to have beauty to it," she said. "I didn't want it to be gore and gross."
Heston said that visually, Marie's power looks different as season one progresses and she becomes more confident and skilled. So, in the early episodes, the blood is more messy and includes a splatter effect. But later on, as Marie learns to tame it and discovers more about herself in the process, the blood has a cleaner look.
For the blood shards that Marie creates during the finale, Heston said that she wanted the effect to be beautiful and complex. This meant that some areas of the shards were see-through while others were more solid and dark red.
Maverick is an invisible supe and resident advisor at God U.
The season one finale confirms that he's the son of the late supe Translucent, who was part of The Seven before he was killed on "The Boys."
Maverick was added to scenes in post-production.
Maverick is only seen in his visible form once on the season finale. Outside of that moment, his hat and glasses are used to indicate when he's in a scene.
Heston said that on set, the hat and glasses props helped the actors know where to look and make sure their eye line matched up correctly.
"It just helps get the actor's performance across and make sure that they feel like they know what they're supposed to be seeing," she said.
In post-production, the VFX team made subtle adjustments to give the invisible character more personality. As Maverick spoke, the glasses would move accordingly while the hat would be readjusted or tipped.
'"That wasn't necessarily an ask or something that came out of the shooting because he was just an invisible dude with not much going on in the footage," she said.
"It's a lot more interesting to look at that character if he's got some of these subtle gestures to him," Heston added.
Marie's roommate, Emma Meyer, has the ability to shrink.
Emma (Lizze Broadway) has a YouTube channel called "Fun Sized With Little Cricket," where she posts videos of herself in her small form.
Tiny Emma was often added to scenes via compositing.
Scenes involving tiny Emma utilized compositing, a VFX technique that combines separate shots or assets to create a cohesive visual.
Heston said the challenge for a character like Emma was ensuring her lighting contrast reflected her size and environment. Another VFX trick was adding dust particulates around Emma to further emphasize her smallness compared to her surroundings.
"That was something that we used to remind the audience that we're at her scale, we're on her level so much so that in the camera you see some little particulates in the air flying around as you would if you were that size," Heston said.
God U student Luke Riordan/Golden Boy can set his body on fire.
At the onset of "Gen V," Luke is the top-ranked student at God U and adored by his fellow classmates.
Golden Boy's VFX flames, which were added in post-production, are meant to imitate the sun.
"Specifically with Golden Boy, I worked really hard to come up with a vision," Heston said. "He's got some energy from the core, but he's also mimicking the sun."
Heston said that she worked closely with the visual effects studio DNEG to achieve the flames seen on the show. Golden Boy's fire was made more complex by adding black and white smoke to create a contrast to the yellow and orange tones.
"I think contrast was really key on bringing Golden Boy home," Heston said.
The VFX supervisor felt that it was important to keep the flame effects away from Schwarzenegger's face to preserve his acting and emotions.
"If it had gone that other direction and been fire on the face or hair or something like that, it's just more jarring and that's all you're thinking about," Heston said.
Golden Boy's flames also move differently based on how a scene fits in his character arc. In the stadium scene, which is the first time viewers see his powers in action, the flames move slower. But by the end of the series premiere, as Luke loses control, the movement of the fire is more chaotic and rapid, Heston explained.
At the end of episode three, tiny Emma gets covered in blood after crawling through the ear of a guard at The Woods.
This happens after a botched attempt to rescue Sam Riordan (Asa Germann) from The Woods, a mysterious lab located in the basement of God U.
No real guards were harmed in the making of the scene.
To film the moment, Broadway was covered in fake blood as she emerged from a fake, giant ear surrounded by blue screens. Additional blood was added to the scene using VFX.
Heston said that she took notes from "The Boys" VFX supervisor and "Gen V" coproducer Stephan Fleet to ensure that the blood featured on the spin-off maintained the dark hue from "The Boys."
"Dark blood is always the way to go," she said.
A super-sized Emma wakes up in a pool at the start of episode five.
During the previous episode, Emma got larger by eating more.
On episode five, Emma explains that her mom previously called her monster when she enlarged and made her swear to never activate that aspect of her powers again.
Emma was added to the pool in post-production.
This scene was also the result of compositing. Heston focused on the ratio of light to subject (in this case, a much larger version of Emma) to make the final visual appear seamless and believable.
Jensen Ackles has a brief, but memorable cameo as Soldier Boy on episode six.
He shows up when some of the other characters find themselves trapped in Cate Dunlap's (Maddie Phillips) mind.
In the context of this scene, Soldier Boy is Cate's imaginary friend. He vanishes after another of Cate's blood vessels bursts.
Heston wanted to lean into the story when conceptualizing the lightning that zaps Soldier Boy.
Heston wanted to make sure the VFX was in line with past lightning effects used on "The Boys" (with the supe Stormfront, for example), while also distinguishing itself from what's already been done.
She said there were conversations and debates about having the lightning mimic the appearance of a blood vessel.
"I felt that it was important to try and have that motivation, have something that kind of mimicked it," Heston said. "I think whether people fully register or kind of lean into accepting that that's part of it or not, it shows up that way and it makes for a good story."
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