October 9, 2011 at 14:14
Hi, my name is Kai Shelton. I do the mechanical special effects for "Grimm." My department
covers all the dirty stuff like smoke, fire, rain, wind, snow, bullet hits, breakaways, explosions and
pretty much everything that makes a mess or wrecks something. We also get to manufacture or
modify many objects, often to do unnatural things.
One thing we do a lot of is smoke. Outdoor smoke adds shafts of light, fog or haze. It gives it a
little creepy feeling. Indoor smoke is usually more of a light haze or diffusion that just acts as a
filter to make everything a little softer and prettier on screen without noticing it as smoke. Smoke
is always a task to keep consistent because of all the factors that affect it: wind, air-conditioning,
open doors, etc. We also have to consider the health of the cast and crew. We use the safest
smoke machines and fluid available.
The challenge is to take the writers' and directors' vision of the episode and make it a reality on
screen, staying within the look, feel, budget and guidelines of the show. We have a lot of
meetings, scouts and discussions about what the effects are and how they can be accomplished
safely and efficiently. We shoot an episode in eight days, and that overlaps our prep time for the
next episode. Scheduling is tight, so proper planning and quick problem-solving skills are a must.
I have worked in film and television since 1990 and am proud of most everything I have worked
on. A good effects person has to have many skills. You must know: plumbing, mechanics, sheet
metal, electrical, pneumatics, hydraulics, welding, fabricating, mold making, leather, steel, wood,
glass, plastics, explosives, sewing, rigging, physics, etc.
I love the challenges of this show, and I love the great people I meet. All the creative, hilarious,
unstoppable, crazy people who work tirelessly to accomplish one thing: to entertain you for an
hour a week.