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Feature: Charmed

Magical moments

We meet some of the people who make Charmed the classy-looking show it is: visual effects maestro Tim Jacobsen, stunt co-ordinator Noon Orsatti and costumer Eilish Zebrasky

Nowhere, perhaps, is the magic of TV more important than on Charmed, where the Charmed Ones use witchcraft to vanquish demons and protect innocents. That’s hard work, and like all TV series there are plenty of people behind the scenes who make sure that things run smoothly and that the actors always look their best. Among those unseen heroes is Tim Jacobsen. The company he works for, Encore, has been handling the visual effects for the show since its pilot episode. Jacobsen took over as visual effects producer at the start of Season Three of Charmed. He got his baptism of fire – no pun intended – handling the VFX for the story The Honeymoon’s Over.

“I had to deal with a huge eight-cut sequence of this judge/demon who is being vanquished by Cole [Julian McMahon],” recalls Jacobsen. “It was up to me to figure out all the elements that went into the shot and make sure it looked as if the person was actually on fire and then exploded at the end. I’d never done anything like that before. Most of my work had been compositing VFX shots, so this was a real eye-opener for me.”

Although the Charmed Ones live in the very real world, it is often filled with the unreal and unbelievable. This keeps Jacobsen and his team busy. “I think the biggest challenge with Charmed is that there’s probably no other TV show that does as many VFX in a one-hour episode,” he notes. “We have a relatively quick turnaround too, which means that many of the shots have to be produced and finished within a week. Sometimes it’s even less than that.

“Some of our VFX are standard ones that we do over and over, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re easy. For example, we do an orb shot that you see all the time on Charmed. However, it’s not just a sequence that we’d term a ‘plug and play’ because it really depends on the environment our characters are orbing into and out of. Then, of course, there are quite a few brand new VFX shots per episode that require design work. Whenever you have design work you need to involve other individuals in order to get their approval. They include Brad Kern [series head writer/executive producer] and co-producer Peter Chomsky, who works closely with me as well.”

by Steven Eramo

For the full article in
Cult Times #101

Photo courtesy Tim Jacobsen
Feature © Visual Imagination 2004. Not for reproduction

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Cult Times #101, see below for ordering options
Cult Times #101
February 2004
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