Hi, my name is Tony and this is Every Frame a Painting.
The first time I ever felt like a movie lied to me, I was eight years old and it was Homeward Bound 2: Lost in San Francisco.
Because this isn't San Francisco.
"What's this? I thought we were going someplace cool."
"This is my favorite place in the entire city."
This is Vancouver, where I grew up.
If you watch enough TV shows or blockbusters, then chances are you've seen my city disguised as Santa Barbara.
Or as Seattle.
And even one time as the Bronx.
"Something's always happening here."
"That's New York for you."
"You'll get used to it."
But no matter how many movies or TV shows are filmed here there's always been one nagging problem.
We never actually see the city.
It's always pretending to be somewhere else.
"I'm in Vancouver downtown, Robson, Robson Square and on the location on a set of The Interview..."
"This is where Seth Rogen and James Franco..."
"They're supposed to be in North Korea, so check it out."
"You are fucking stupid and you are fucking ignorant, Dave.
Vancouver is actually the third biggest film city in North America.
But we're so hidden,even have movies about how we're not featured in the movies.
"My specialty is disguising Vancouver so it looks like an American city."
But how do you fake one city as another without the audience noticing?
Well first you need to know the city and Vancouver is kind of a chameleon.
In Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol, it plays Seattle...
And Eastern Europe...
And even India, all within a 15-minute drive of each other.
Once you know the city, it's actually pretty simple to trick the audience.
Most people don't question the establishing shot, so you can just find the right building and put a title card onscreen.
The other option is to shoot 2nd unit footage of another city and then cut...
To somewhere in Vancouver.
This is especially common with Seattle since a lot of the architecture there looks pretty similar to here.
But to really convince the audience, you're gonna need a lot of help.
Which brings us to the art department who control all the little details...
Like decals on the sides of cars.
American flags in the background.
New signs in front of buildings.
And this one's my personal favorite.
"I'm not gonna kiss them but let's just say I might give'em some"
USA Today vending machines.
Because nothing says America like USA Today.
"I read it every day, for news around the U.S.A."
The next step in faking a city is deciding how to light and shoot it.
One of the best ways to disguise Vancouver is to film at night in shallow focus.
This is to avoid pulling a "Rumble in the Bronx" when they pointed the camera north and you could clearly see the mountains.
It's kind of remarkable what you can get from a location by changing the angle and the lighting.
This is the Orpheum Theatre, on a tripod from a high angle.
And here's the exact same entryway from a low-angle, handheld.
Last but not the least, there's the VFX team who composite specific elements into the shot.
Sometimes it's a landmark, like Alcatraz.
The TransAmerica Pyramid.
Or the Space Needle.
But other times, they'll change almost the entire frame.
This is Front Street, playing Japan.
And here it is again, playing future Chicago.
And it's all these little details that help us believe the illusion.
So that a character can jump out of a window in Vancouver...
And in the space of one cut...
End up in San Francisco.