The Orville VFX Team on Making their Emmy-Nominated Battle Scenes Come to Life

The. Orville vs. the Kaylon Fleet in “Identity, Part 2”

The. Orville vs. the Kaylon Fleet in “Identity, Part 2”

The final round of voting for this year’s Emmy awards closed last night. For nominees, it’s now a tense wait until September 14th and 15th, when the awards will be given out. For those of us who can’t be there in person, the awards ceremony will be aired the following Saturday, September 21st, on FOX.

Star Trek: Discovery was nominated for a total of 4 awards this year: Main Title Design, Prosthetic Makeup, Sound Editing, and Special Visual Effects. In the category of Special Visual Effects, Star Trek is up against its cousin of sorts, The Orville, whose team was nominated for their work on the episode “Identity, Part 2”.

SyfyWire had a piece this week in which they interviewed The Orville’s VFX producer Brooke Noska and digital effects supervisor Brandon Fayette, about how they made the big space battle scenes come to life.

In the episode “Identity, Part 2”, the crew of The Orville must take on a fleet of Kaylon warships, intent on eliminating all biological life. It culminated in an immense space battle sequence whose scope and ambition wouldn’t be out of place in the next Star Wars film. In the SyfyWire piece, Noska and Fayette revealed that the battle sequence was only meant to be two minutes long, but the previz (or rough animation) was so impressive the series Executive Producer Seth MacFarlane called for it to be expanded into a ten-minute sequence.

Keeping all the action straight ended up being a challenge for the VFX team. Quoting the SyfyWire piece, “In order to maintain maximum narrative clarity, Fayette uses a lot of camera hand-offs – something not often done in space films, he said. In the Star Wars pictures, for example, we might see the Millennium Falcon attacking other ships, but then the action will cut back to inside the Falcon, and the next time we're outside again, we're looking at a different part of the battle. In the Orville universe, Fayette keeps the tracking clear — if one ship blows up, another flies by and the camera follows that one into the next stretch of action.”

In order to achieve that, Fayette went so far as to name all 70 ships involved in the battle, and kept track of each one throughout. “I had to make sure we didn't blow up the U.S.S. Quimby twice,” he said.

To watch the impressive, Emmy-nominated scene for yourself, you can watch The Orville series one and two on Hulu now.


This article was written for the podcast Daily Star Trek News.

Alison Pitt is the writer, producer, and host of Daily Star Trek News, on the Roddenberry Podcast Network. A veteran Star Trek podcaster, she started her career on the weekly show Priority One: A Roddenberry Star Trek Podcast in 2015. She has appeared on panels at Star Trek Las Vegas, WonderCon, and San Diego Comic Con.

Alison Pitt