Watch This DVD: Lost Season 2 Bonus Disk

Only one more week to go in the labor strife induced lull in the action for Lost Season 4. During the downtime, I went back and watched the bonus disk from Season 2 and was fascinated by one of the behind the scenes pieces. At the end of the credits for almost every Lost episode, the following seemingly simple statement appears:

“Filmed entirely on location on Oahu, Hawaii.”

CharlieGiven that most of the shows plot occurs in a tropical jungle environment, in order to get realism into every shot, it completely makes sense to have principle photography done in an actual tropical location. But, as the “Fire + Water: Anatomy of an Episode” bonus feature on Lost Season 2, Disk 7 tells us, the requirement to have these realistic shots has a ripple effect on other parts of the production.

Just like some requirement on your project might have a ripple effect on aspects of your design.

Although an episode of Lost airs every 7 days, it takes 24 days to make an episode once the script has been finalized. While much of the work is done in parallel, the Hawaiian location provides some challenges for most of the staff in one way or another.

Choosing locations for the main timeline of the show that occurs on the island is hard enough (some locations are revisited while others have to be original to advance new story elements), but the real difficulty is in the flashback or flashforward segments. Since the cast is so internationally emphasized, parts of Hawaii have to double for places all over the world, like London in the “Fire + Water” episode.

How in the heck do you get a street in Honolulu to look like England? That’s where the magic of artists and prop masters, who have a shop there locally, do their thing. A subway sign here, a billboard for ale there, a few British made cars parked on the curb, and you have your London street outside Charlie’s flat he shares with brother Liam.

While it is hard on the staff that prepares and shoots episodes in Hawaii, a similar set of stresses is placed on the post production staff. At a specific time in the late Hawaiian afternoon, whatever film has been shot for the day has to be driven to the airport and flown overnight to Los Angeles. The next morning, a production assistant picks up the package and gets the film developed in the early morning so that by the afternoon, the editing staff can begin to splice in footage for the episode with other pieces that arrived on previous days.

Music, digital effects, foley artists, and color adjusting all have to add their pieces, typically in parallel, by around 6 days after shooting has concluded. Since much of the shooting is done outdoors, often times the original dialog recorded on set cannot be used because of background noise levels (wind, surf, etc.). That means actors have to go back rerecord dialog to match their earlier performance.

Where are the actors? Back in Hawaii. So, a near finished version of the episode has to be shipped back to the islands where the new audio tracks are created, which are then flown back to LA where they are properly mixed before final delivery to the network.

When all that is done? Here comes the daily film delivery for the next episode.

On the surface, it seems like a simple solution to film a show about survivors of a plane crash on a tropical island on an actual tropical island. But the ramifications of that decision sure effect a lot of other things, just like there always seems to be that one requirement that makes other parts of your project more difficult.

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One Response to “Watch This DVD: Lost Season 2 Bonus Disk”

  1. Wendy - Oahu Photographer Says:

    Amazing! We love lost and it is amazing how much work goes into it. We live across the bay from where a lot of the show is filmed and it is always fun playing “name that mountain peak” when we watch the show.

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