Speaking at Apple TV+ and Deadline's Visual Effects + Screen event, Chris MacLean explained how the team behind Foundation used older technology rather than innovate new methods to achieve their look.
The goal was to get an "analog feel" to the visual effects, and "try to bring it back to reality a bit, because you can end up make impossible-looking shots if you’re not trying to ground things."
"When we started on Season 1, we started with real space,” MacLean explained. "We wanted it to be more realistic. Then, we started looking at [Isaac] Asimov covers and tried to bring a little more colour into the world."
Despite the prolific use of VFX techniques, MacLean's team did not use blue and green screens. "That’s an aesthetic choice, because we’d rather get the natural colour than 'de-spill' stuff."
At the end of the day, the team's goal is to make sure that the VFX don't steal the show. "Even though they think it’s a cool shot, they don’t think it's a visual effects shot." To achieve this, MacLean says the goal is "making sure it looks like something that can be photographed," and then taking a cinematographer’s approach to the scene.
Foundation, based on the award-winning novels by Isaac Asimov, chronicles a band of exiles on their monumental journey to save humanity and rebuild civilisation amid the fall of the Galactic Empire and stars Lee Pace, Jared Harris, and Lou Llobel.
The show is produced by Phantom Four (US) and Skydance Television (US), with executive producers Robyn Asimov (Isaac Asimov's daughter), David S Goyer (who also serves as showrunner), Josh Friedman, Cameron Welsh, David Ellison, Dana Goldberg, and Marcy Ross. Season 1 filmed in Ireland and Malta, while season 2 filmed in Prague, Czech Republic.