The Mysterious Benedict Society DFX Supervisor Bryant Reif | Exclusive Interview
The second season of “The Mysterious Benedict Society” has just wrapped on Disney+, and this week, I spoke with Bryant Reif, who is the FuseFX CG Supervisor on the second season.
“The Mysterious Benedict Society” is about a group of gifted orphans who go on a secret mission for an eccentric, mysterious benefactor. The series stars Mystic Inscho, Seth Carr, Emmy DeOliveira, and Marta Kessler.
As the show takes place in a fictional European town in the 1950s and 60s, Bryant and his team needed to create visual effects that accurately resembled the style and feel of the era. To create this style, Bryant and his team did plentiful research to ensure even the smallest of details depicted the period of the story. This was especially difficult in their creation of The Shortcut, an ocean liner that the children journey through on their mission.
The Shortcut was completely computer generated, designed after the ship The Queen Mary, which is an actual 1930s ocean liner found in Long Beach. Bryant and his team used images and went to see the ship in-person to get all the intricate details of The Queen Mary incorporated into The Shortcut. From the ocean waves to the small people in the shot, every shot of The Shortcut was digitally created.
Bryant shared some details about how the team at FuseFX digitally created The Shortcut as well as other VFX elements in “The Mysterious Benedict Society”.
Check out the full interview in the video below:
Could you explain what job you did on “The Mysterious Benedict Society”?
I was the CG Supervisor on the show. I basically managed all the 3D computer graphics for the show. So that involved managing the teams that came up with the digital boats and trains, and there’s a dirigible and all these other kinds of 3D assets that we use throughout the show.
What kind of research did you do for the special effects?
We relied on a lot of magazines and books like fashion and architecture from that era and then that part of the world. So, mostly just pouring through books, other references and old photos.
Some of it was based off the Queen Mary, which is docked here in Los Angeles, actually in Long Beach. I was very familiar with the boat already. I’d been there many times. So we took photos. They shot a lot of episode two on the shortcut, but was filmed on the Queen Mary in Long Beach. We used a lot of that for reference, old Ocean Liners that we looked up. There are even some elements of the Titanic in there, although it’s certainly was not based on Titanic in any way, but, that kind of era of trans-oceanic boats.
What were some of the highlights of working on “The Mysterious Benedict Society”?
I think it was the design. It was the style, it’s very unique, it certainly isn’t one of those shows that is, I don’t know how to describe it. You know, where everything’s kind of like, cut and dry and it’s like, very, very standard. It has a very unique style to it, which was a lot of fun. It was a lot of fun to kind of work on stuff that was from that era and, this kind of quirky sort of eccentric style.
What was your biggest challenge on working on the show?
I think it might have been some of those shots, like when we’re on the water, because it was shot on the Queen Mary in Long Beach. And of course, you know that boat hasn’t sailed in like 20, 30 years, probably even more. So we had to make it look like it was in the middle of the ocean and traveling at speed with these big waves. So we basically had to recreate the Atlantic Ocean, and it was a tremendous amount of time and fluid simulation data and other constant tweaks and constant revisions to get the ocean to look and behave the way that we wanted it to.
What has been your favourite Disney Plus original so far, other than the mysterious Benedict Society?
I’m gonna pick Wanda Vision just because it started off one way, and I didn’t know anything going into it. And because I had kind of already set up my mind that this was the way the show was gonna go when it twisted, I think after like what the third or fourth episode it was. I love being fooled like that, because a lot of times, you can kind of tell the way a show is gonna go, and there’s nothing left to kind of discover. But that one really pulled the wool over my eyes, in a great way. So very entertaining.
The first two seasons of “The Mysterious Benedict Society” are available to stream now on Disney+