Get the inside scoop on how Wolf Entertainment, the powerhouse behind several scripted franchises, including FBI, Law and Order, and Chicago, masterfully weaves Pond5 footage into the high-stakes world of FBI: International.
If you’re captivated by the suspense of on-screen detectives cracking cases and apprehending dangerous criminals, rest assured that you’re not alone.
Crime dramas, filled with thrilling storylines and action-packed scenes, have a magnetic allure, and Dick Wolf’s FBI franchise is no exception. These addictive on-screen adventures produced by Wolf Entertainment have hooked viewers since 2018 and are now prime binging material over on the streaming platform, Paramount+.
While fan-favorite FBI, and spinoff, FBI: Most Wanted follow special agents on missions around the USA, Wolf’s newer addition to the FBI universe, FBI: International, brings the drama overseas. The series follows the FBI’s international Fly Team, elite agents headquartered in Budapest, as they investigate crime and terrorism abroad, primarily in Europe.
From the Roman-inspired architecture of Pula, Croatia, to the beautiful coastline of Mallorca, Spain, the Wolf Entertainment team uses captured footage of Europe’s scenery to take viewers on cases around the world.
While many of the show’s scenes are shot in-house, the Wolf Production team trusts Pond5’s expansive stock media library to supplement and enhance their storytelling.
We spoke to FBI: International associate producer, Sara Cimino, to learn how she worked with Pond5 to marry elements like graphics, special effects, and music together to create three great seasons of the show.
Creativity without Constraints
The Wolf Entertainment team devotes copious amounts of time to directly filming the shots they need, but budget, time constraints, and logistics issues are always at play.
For example, suppose you wanted to capture overhead shots of the Széchenyi Chain Bridge or display the São Bento Palace session rooms. In that case, you’d also need to consider the colossal travel, permit, and equipment costs involved. With stock, Cimino could rapidly adapt to uncooperative conditions to ensure they get the footage that would otherwise be unattainable.
“We often use stock media to establish exteriors of buildings or aerials of the cities we are in. These are needed because the interiors we shoot are not the same kind of building, or they were not shot at all. We also do not have 24/7 access to drones, so production was not able to shoot establishing footage for the city or country we are in,” said Cimino. “Additionally, we tend to use stock within our monitor GFX elements to supplement footage we did shoot.”
Whether finding aerial footage or importing green screen graphics, Pond5’s diverse stock media library gives Wolf’s post-production team more freedom and flexibility to carry the story forward and fulfill their artistic vision.
“One of the great things about Pond5 is that they provide me with a base I can manipulate. If I don’t have 100% of what I need, their resources can get me 90% of the way there. Then with visual effects, I can add or remove elements to tell the story I need.”
Supporting Immersive Storytelling
Dick Wolf set out to explore more of the world with this spinoff, filming scenes in locations that would be foreign to many American viewers. The show’s International Fly Team, led by supervisory special agent Scott Forrester (Luke Kleintank), might be infiltrating a black market operation in Budapest in one episode, and in another, they are solving the murder of an American vintner in France.
Wolf Entertainment understood the importance of maintaining authenticity and cultural representation when bringing these multinational scenes to life. They recognized that merely feigning certain elements would only lead to a local misrepresentation from more traveled viewers, undermining the integrity of the storytelling.
To strike the perfect balance between real footage and stock, it was critical that Cimino was able to quickly search through Pond5’s video catalog for media that could capture the true essence of their diverse filming locations.
“While there are some that won’t distinguish an Austrian countryside from a French countryside, I still need to tailor my search for the most suitable footage or graphic,” said Cimino. “I’ll start very narrow, and if I don’t see the exact item I need, I’ll start considering pieces that would be fitting. So, instead of searching ‘Budapest Parliament,’ I could type ‘Parliament’ and see what other kinds of buildings pop up that meet my criteria.”
Pond5’s library of stock media runs the gamut from realistic 3D models to abstract illustrations.
The depth and breadth of their collection ensured that the audience would be fully immersed in the world being portrayed on screen.
“I love how Pond5 is really responsive to keywords, and by removing or adding things, I can find what I need very quickly or look for something I can use as a backup option based on what I am finding within my search parameters.”
Enhancing Realism with Stock
The Wolf Entertainment team welcomed the time and cost-saving perks of adding stock media. However, they did not want to risk pulling the audience out of the moment with a shot that did not blend in with the rest of the production. “Pond5 offered several elements that could help us elevate the show in a way that’s not noticeable to the audience. That’s what we aim for–we want to make things feel and look as real as possible,” Cimino explained.
By combining Pond5’s high-quality stock footage with their experienced editing team, they were able to enhance the aesthetic value of their production without losing the pace or mood of the overall narrative. Their ready-to-use resources helped the Wolf team expand the production value of their deliverables for a fraction of the cost and effort.
Even the smallest details had a significant impact when intricately executed by the team. Cimino inserted Pond5’s transparent 3D elements to create layers of animation that could add much-needed context to an otherwise simple scene. “We needed to add construction workers to a scene on scaffolding far in the background. It was very easy for me to pop in one of these tiny digital guys that are moving or hammering to provide an extra piece of realism,” explained Cimino.
“At the end of the day, the things I care most about are finding somebody that can easily get me what I need, in high quality, in the right time frame, and for the right price. All those boxes are checked off with Pond5. That makes them my number one stop when looking for stock media.”
The Perfect Partner in Crime
According to Cimino, the choice to partner with Pond5 was easy. “[Pond5] had the greatest selection of footage we needed and for the BEST price!”
Beyond the ability to meet her expectations, what she valued most from the team was the commitment to their show’s success displayed during her longtime relationship with her account representative. “Working with my Pond5 team has been AMAZING!! They are always quick to respond and help us get the licensing done quickly. Additionally, Anthony takes the time to watch our show and therefore has established a personal bond with us and the show, making him a delight to work with! “
This personalized experience has helped ensure that the Wolf team has all the resources necessary to continue developing the best content for their viewers.
“There are a lot of stock media companies out there that provide good-quality images and decent pricing, but there’s something about Pond5 that’s just special,” explained Cimino. “When you have a stressful workflow and a lot of tight deadlines, having a company with pleasant, professional people that provide you with what you need in a timely manner makes your life so much easier.”