Paramount’s Knuckles: Exploring All Shooting Locations

Created by John Whittington and Toby Ascher, ‘Knuckles’ continues the saga of the titular character after the events of ‘Sonic the Hedgehog 2.’ The Echidna warrior settles down on Earth as he has promised to protect the planet. During his time in the small town, Knuckles takes up the task of training Deputy Wade Whipple into a fearless warrior. His lessons with Wade are interrupted when a former henchman of Robotnik begins to target him for his otherworldly energy. The Paramount+ action comedy show is based on Sega’s ‘Sonic’ video game series. Its episodes revolve around a quaint city that becomes ground zero for Knuckles’ explosive battles against powered-up soldiers and mechs.

Where is Knuckles Filmed?

‘Knuckles’ is filmed on location in Reno, Nevada, and in a studio in Buckinghamshire, England. Shooting for the first season of ‘Knuckles’ took place back-to-back with ‘Sonic 3,’ and both productions use the same character assets. Principal photography for the show began in April 2023 and was wrapped up in barely two months by June of the same year.

Buckinghamshire, England

With the bulk of the show’s scenes relying on special effects and animations, most of its shooting is carried out at the Pinewood Studios. Situated at Pinewood Road, Slough, Iver, the world-renowned filming property is decked out with state-of-the-art production facilities. The animation of ‘Knuckles’ blended with live-action made the advanced equipment and setup of Pinewood Studios a prerequisite for the show, especially since the minds behind it seek to scale up the production quality from the first two ‘Sonic’ movies.

The first ‘Sonic’ movie had 1300 animated shots, and ‘Knuckles’ has 300 more. The first season of ‘Knuckles’ also served as a warmup for the production team before working on ‘Sonic 3.’ Therefore, the animation process was revamped with the series. While the team worked with a single vendor for their animations in the past, it created a bottleneck for their production speed since the vendor owned the characters’ animation rigs, and another service provider could not be brought on board. For ‘Knuckles,’ the team created the rigs and partnered with six vendors: Outpost, Untold, ILM, RSP, Fin, and their in-house team. This is very likely the reason behind the six-episode season being completed swiftly within two months.

Another major improvement made from the ‘Sonic’ films was to replace the stand-in for the animated characters. “One thing we did, which we haven’t done in the past, is have an on-set puppeteer with a Knuckles puppet so the actor has something to respond to,” explained director Jeff Fowler in an interview. “We can then do blocking with the puppeteer. You don’t want your CG characters to be standing there dead in the water in one spot the whole time; you want them to move around and use the space.”

In the past, the stand-in for the animated characters was a tennis ball on a stick. However, with a dynamic puppet on set, the actors had more freedom to play off of a reactive recipient of their dialogues. This serves to sharpen the comedic timing and humor of the series.

Reno, Nevada

To capture the small-town backdrop seen in the show, the production crew ventures to the northwestern border of Nevada, setting up shop in the city of Reno. The mountainous landscapes seen in the show’s setting are actually the Sierra Nevada mountain range surrounding the city situated in the scenic Truckee Meadows. Also known as The Biggest Little City in the World, Reno’s most notable feature is its close proximity to Lake Tahoe, one of the largest and most beautiful alpine lakes in the country.

Shooting for the show’s outdoor action sequences is carried out in downtown Reno. We can spot the Silver Legacy Resort Casino, Eldorado, Circus-Circus Hotel, National Bowling Stadium, Palace Jewelry & Loan Company, and the National Bowling Stadium, among other landmarks. The National Bowling Stadium at 300 University Way is where Knuckles and Wade go bowling but are interrupted by the villain’s henchmen. The building lives up to its name with four stories of 78 tournament-quality bowling lanes and is also known as the Taj Mahal of Tenpins. The enormous ball sculpture at the top of the stadium is seen crashing down during an action sequence.

Reno’s downtown area is home to various entertainment options, including casinos, restaurants, bars, and live music venues. The city’s lively nightlife scene in the district makes it a popular destination for visitors. The city is something of a hidden gem when it comes to filmmaking and has previously been home to productions like ‘Austin Powers in Goldmember,’ ‘Kingpin,’ and ‘Sister Act.’

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