Been catching up on the new hit STARZ show, American Gods? Then you've probably seen some of our animals. Two episodes this season featured custom animal productions from GreenScreen Animals, a team of rabbits and hairless cats. They can be seen in Episode 3, Head Full Of Snow, Episode 7, A Prayer For Mad Sweeney, and episode 8, Come To Jesus.
It all started when the show's producers reached out to GreenScreen Animals. They wanted very specific footage to match existing plates, which we did not have in our library. We decided a custom shoot was the best option and set the ball in motion. The hairless cat shoot was first and was performed in Toronto on their sound stage. This was made possible due to the cats' small size and their ability to travel (this can't be duplicated with a lion). After the huge success of the cat shoot we recorded six rabbits locally in Los Angeles using our in-house team of experts.
Hiring GreenScreen Animals saves producers both time and money. By allowing our team of professionals to handle the details, it frees up time and enables the producers to focus on what they do best. At GSA, we only work with only the most responsible animal handlers and make sure American Humane's Film and Television is always on set. American Humane issues the "No Animals Were Harmed" end credit, which insures the safety and care of the animal during production. This is important that should never be skipped and insures no brand blowback.
The hairless cat footage was shot by Visual Effects Supervisor and Cinematographer, David Stump (X-Men, Contact, Garfield) on the BlackMagic Ursa and the results were incredible. The Ursa is used on the show primarily for special effects shots. Apparently, David tested 20 different cameras before choosing the BlackMagic Ursa Mini 4.6K system. Working with David was veteran VFX Supervisor Kevin Haug (Kingsmen: The Secret Service, the Twilight series, Quantum Of Solace). The shoot was a huge success, and our talented cats often nailed the scene in one take, with an extra take for safety. One of the scenes required the cat to climb a incredibly steep set of stairs, which were located on the side of a high cliff face the in show. The shot was daunting to say the least, and something which requires lots of visual effects before it hits the screen. To duplicate this shot, the art department created a much shorter set of wooden stairs in-studio, which matched the size and shape of the stairs from the plates. Then camera matched the angle to make the stairs appear much higher than they actually were. This enabled our feline actor to do various takes in a much safer, more relaxed, green screen environment (actually this one was blue).
Two months after recording the hairless cats in Toronto, we received a call for rabbits. Once again the show needed very specific shots to match existing plates. This time they wanted a hero rabbit to interact directly with actress Kristen Chenoweth (The West Wing, Glee, Bewitched), as well as rabbits to appear in a driving scene with Ian McShane (the John Wick series, Hercules, Snow White and the Huntsman). After we cast the rabbits handlers, we worked with the VFX team to insure proper matching of lights, camera angles, animal behaviors and camera specifications. GreenScreen Animals handled every aspect of production which enabled the American Gods team to arrive on-set to approve shots. It's a turn-key system, which we've developed and honed over many years, designed to save wear and tear on both the animal and the production team. Appreciation of nature and the natural world were fundamental to the founding of GSA, and continue to be a top priority while amassing the world's largest library of digital animal content.
Take a look at the scenes below, and also find these hairless cat and rabbit clips available to license on our website here.