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REALTIME conjures VFX magic for Sky TV's A Discovery of Witches, Series 2

06/05/2021

REALTIME conjures VFX magic for Sky TV's A Discovery of Witches, Series 2

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Brie Clayton May 5, 2021

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The show is first and foremost a costume drama - we had to create VFX that seamlessly integrated into that world without taking the audience away from it, says Ian Jones, CG Supervisor at REALTIME.

The second series of Sky TV's much-loved A Discovery of Witches takes us time-spinning between our contemporary world to period Elizabethan London; blending a mystical narrative between the two. Starring Matthew Goode (Matthew Clairmont) and Teresa Palmer (Diana Bishop), REALTIME provided on-set support, pre-vis and an array of VFX magic to help the show's creators translate Deborah Harkness' novel to the small screen.

Working closely alongside Production VFX Supervisor Stephen Coren and VFX Producer Antony Bluff, the team crafted Emily's scrying magic', Corra the fire drake and a host of supernatural elements for the series. Says Coren, It was brilliant to work with REALTIME again. There was the ease of already having a comfortable relationship with the team as well as trusting that the work would turn out great; from concep to the final picture.

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Emily's scrying magic' is a show-stopping blend of 2D and 3D FX work which sees a ghostly apparition of Rebecca appear from beyond the grave. Described in the script as a swirling cone of smoke,' it's a performative ritual which Emily attempts four separate times throughout the series, becoming more confident and successful each time.

data-src=https://gcs.creativecow.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/05184853/Witches1-1024x558.jpg alt= class=lazyload wp-image-2409616 data-srcset=https://gcs.creativecow.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/05184853/Witches1-1024x558.jpg 1024w, https://gcs.creativecow.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/05184853/Witches1-300x164.jpg 300w, https://gcs.creativecow.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/05184853/Witches1-768x419.jpg 768w, https://gcs.creativecow.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/05184853/Witches1-624x340.jpg 624w, https://gcs.creativecow.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/05184853/Witches1-50x27.jpg 50w, https://gcs.creativecow.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/05184853/Witches1-100x55.jpg 100w, https://gcs.creativecow.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/05184853/Witches1.jpg 1119w data-sizes=(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px />REALTIME created a pre-vis of the sequence, complete with pentagon layout, little candles and an animated character manipulating the smoke. The team used mood boards and insight from Coren and movement coach Sarah Perry to guide the look of the magic, while the final FX design was inspired from the brief of a potter's wheel, a spinning form that Emily drives with her hands to conjure Rebecca.

data-src=https://gcs.creativecow.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/05184909/Witches2-1024x576.png alt= class=lazyload wp-image-2409617 data-srcset=https://gcs.creativecow.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/05184909/Witches2-1024x576.png 1024w, https://gcs.creativecow.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/05184909/Witches2-300x169.png 300w, https://gcs.creativecow.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/05184909/Witches2-768x432.png 768w, https://gcs.creativecow.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/05184909/Witches2-1536x864.png 1536w, https://gcs.creativecow.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/05184909/Witches2-624x351.png 624w, https://gcs.creativecow.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/05184909/Witches2-50x28.png 50w, https://gcs.creativecow.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/05184909/Witches2-100x56.png 100w, https://gcs.creativecow.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/05184909/Witches2.png 1920w data-sizes=(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px />The look development of the smoke started at the previs stage and was pushed through postvis and final VFX, with Rebecca sitting at its centre. We initially used primitive particle systems to develop the overall form and performance of the smoke, explains Ian Jones, CG Supervisor. That allowed for quick iterations and helped us establish the story. It was important that the magic developed and grew stronger, not just within an individual sequence, but across multiple sequences throughout the series. These early visuals allowed editorial to lock the scenes before we moved into Houdini. Once in Houdini, there was still a lot of development to do as we fine-tuned the smoke's performance through simulation and developed its texture and properties. To incorporate the 2D footage of Rebecca into our 3D scene, we used onset photogrammetry on the actor and tracked her geometry into our scene using her performance within the plate, as well as additional witness cameras which were positioned strategically around the set.

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LINK: https://creativecow.net/realtime-conjures-vfx-magic-for-sky-tvs-a-disc...
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