Starz shared this lovely promo photo of Tom as Leonardo on Instagram, and there is another new interview on IMDb with Tom and David S. Goyer, discussing how storylines were developed for season 2.
Goyer: One thing I knew that I didn’t want to do in season two is to just have Da Vinci stay in the house of Medici and keep building war machines and turning back Rome. I thought that would become really repetitive… so I wanted to take him, and Lorenzo (Elliot Cowan) and Riario (Blake Ritson), out of their comfort zones. Throw the characters up in to the air, and reassemble them into different alliances. …I remember working with one of my writers on “Flash Forward” who used to be on “Prison Break,” and he’d said that what they did at the end of the first season was, they sat down and they just said as an exercise, “Which characters in our show haven’t had any scenes or meaningful interactions with other characters?” And they drew up a list. We did the same exercise on our show… and that just opens itself up to some interesting storytelling.
IMDbTV: That must have changed the trajectory of the story to a certain extent.
Goyer: Yes. Sometimes I’ll do that in the writers room. I’ll say, “Let’s just go through an exercise in thinking about things differently. What is the craziest thing we can possibly do?” So we opened season two not where we finished season one. When I first proposed that, everybody just said “You’re insane.” I got some push back, but eventually they agreed it was kind of cool.
Riley: We knew about [the opening of season two] when we were filming the finale of season one… which was a very exciting idea. And then, that kind of begets the idea of, maybe this will work for everyone else, because if they’ve got to be there [in the New World], who else has to be elsewhere in order for this to happen? Midseason, there’s some more absolutely crazy, batsh-t, nexus-of-madness stuff that happens… but always within the realms that we understand and the boundaries that we set up.
An interesting interview with David S. Goyer for Crave Online reveals some da Vinci vision titbits
The sweeping transitions over the castle and city are all visual effects. Are those easy to do on a TV budget? How is that a way to make it feel bigger?
Look, we have a fairly sizable visual effects budget and we got nominated for a visual effects Emmy last season. Fortunately one of the gratifying things about doing a second season is I think we earned Starz’s trust and did fairly well for them so they gave us more money. That extended into visual effects, but one of the other things that’s nice with some of your sets and even visual effects is some of our sets have already been built, so we can build new ones. We spent $300,000 digitally building Florence. That was all built so we didn’t have to re-spend that money in season two. We could do new stuff with it and that’s how we were able to do some of those flyovers.
Is the “da Vinci vision” an easy visual effect to do?
No, it’s not and it’s an expensive visual effect. We always want to do more than we can afford. We debate how many frames we can afford per episode. Everybody loves it. It’s just really expensive to do.
What makes it so complicated?
It’s hand animated in the old fashioned Disney animation way, it’s not computer generated, by a really talented group of animators. It’s really labor intensive and if you want to make changes, it’s not like a computer where you can just plug in “make it 10% bigger.” They have to hand animate it again so it takes a really long time and it’s really labor intensive.