UNIT are very proud and excited to have collaborated on Sky Atlantic’s epic historical drama BRITANNIA, which was nominated for a BAFTA in the Craft Category for SPECIAL, VISUAL & GRAPHIC EFFECTS.
With a star-studded cast it was billed as one of Sky’s most ambitious series yet, the 9-part drama saw Sky and Amazon Studios join forces for the first time in a co-production with Vertigo Films in association with Neal Street Productions.
UNIT were a relatively new TV & Film division at the time and were approached to work on a handful of VFX shots, but Simon Frame (the series VFX Producing Supervisor), was so impressed with our collaborative and creative contribution that the shot count soon grew to over 300 shots.
Notably, we developed the Underworld, a high concept mythical location where the Druids go to see the future and to communicate with their dead. Some studios might have been fazed by this but we knew we were definitely up for the challenge.
UNIT’s Creative Director of CG, Nuno Pereira, oversaw the production from start to finish, on hearing about the BAFTA nomination, Nuno comments
"It's fantastic news. I truly think this is a milestone for UNIT's creative team and how far we've come. It's a true testament to the sheer dedication and collective effort of everyone involved. I'm incredibly proud of our team, the outstanding quality of our work and what we have achieved."
“In the beginning, no one really knew what the Underworld was or what it was supposed to look like. It was an inherited sequence of loosely scripted dramatic performances by the actors, which had been shot against blue screen several months earlier catering for a simple line in the script which had read (we paraphrase here) 'Divis goes into the Underworld'. So, from a storytelling and editorial point of view there was a lot to be done.”
Nuno adds “Once concepts were approved, these shots were taken into production. Underworld ended up being a full VFX build with every shot, except
for the actors, being fully computer generated. Our creative team worked on creature animation and simulations for the snake, with atmospherics and textures added in the smoke simulations and finally compositing”.
"The team worked tirelessly to bring the concept art to life. The Underworld albeit real, is heavily stylised so it was quite challenging to make it grounded and believable and not just an imaginary sequence parallel to the story.”
Scott Simmonds, Lead Nuke Compositor notes, “The biggest and most exciting challenge for me was bringing the 2D matte paintings to life, adding lighting, atmospherics, camera moves and parallax. The next challenge was then embedding our blue screen actors into the shot especially when the lighting was completely different. We had to really go in and mask off different body parts to either lighten or darken them in order to make the actors feel like they were shot in situ”.
Executive Producer Emma Watterson recalls, “The collaborative manner of the project meant we had the clients trust throughout, which creatively was a brilliant position to be in. We are all incredibly proud of the work on Britannia and even more thrilled it has been nominated for a BAFTA”.
To view Britannia Montage, click here:
To view ‘Underworld’ VFX Breakdown click here:
The BAFTA Craft Awards night takes place on Sunday 28th April, when UNIT will be attending and keeping our fingers crossed for a win!