Poldark, the new BBC drama which had its finale last weekend, featured visual effects production by Lexhag, including lavish set extensions and 3D matte painting, which were composted in Fusion Studio 7, from Blackmagic Design.
VFX for the series were supervised by Alexis Haggar who was involved in the series from pre-production, working closely alongside series production designer Catrin Meredydd as well as the two block directors and both block directors of photography.
The setting for the drama was the 18th century mining industry in Cornwall, England. All of the exterior mine shots were filmed on location in Cornwall, and Lexhag had one major reference image for the mine build from the turn of the century, which provided an insight into how the working mine would have looked. Using a digital scan of the location, Alexis and his team were able to build, position and light structures in both 3D and Fusion.
“All of the major set extensions were started with a LiDAR scan,” explained Haggar. “For Wheal Leisure – Ross Poldark’s mine – the art department built the lower area’s around an existing mine on the Cornish coast and we took over for the higher elements, such as the roof structure and windows. Grambler, the large mine set into the hillside, was a combination of digital matte painting and 3D elements all composited in Fusion.”
CG supervisor Ken Turner added: “All the 3D elements were rendered as .exr files and brought into Fusion to relight and grade. The exr files handle multiple light passes, and masks for all of the separate elements, which gives you a lot of control for interactive adjustments in Fusion. Once the still frame was close to the finished article, I then took it into photoshop for a final paint, breaking up the clean CG edges with grime and rock before taking it back into fusion where I added people, smoke, grain, lens aberrations and lots of little tweaks to make the still matte painting come to life.”
Haggar concluded: “Fusion is fast and flexible. It has a great 3D workspace, which is where more of our composting happens these days meaning we can solve a lot more of our problems in 3D space. Speed is the key for us. Keeping your creativity alive while compositing has always been a challenge. Waiting for elements to render or playback was always frustrating. Fusion provides the best of both worlds, fast compositing or high accuracy ‘pixel pushing’ for absolute perfection.”
Poldark is currently airing on BBC One, and is set for transmission in the United States and Australia later in 2015.