Our team were drafted in to provide Previs to plan major sequences for the movie; a high-suspense scene set on the ground and rooftops of Piccadilly Circus and the final showdown in Iceland. The team were delighted to work closely with Director Jamie Payne and to continue their working relationship with the film’s VFX Supervisor, Matt Kasmir.
"The NVIZ team were brilliant creative partners on Luther The Fallen Sun. Their previs work was invaluable and their tech storytelling was essential" - Jamie Payne, Director
In the movie a sinister serial killer, Robey (Andy Serkis) has used the dark web to target several individuals, on the verge of ending their lives. The plot leads to a complicated scene set in a busy London landmark, Piccadilly Circus, and involves action on the ground and across several rooftops, where the targeted victims were each standing, waiting to jump to their deaths.
It’s a grim scene that required meticulous planning to pull off on the day. The Director used our virtual camera tool, ARENA, to plan the shot and make decisions prior to the shoot.
The NVIZ team were part of weekly virtual camera sessions at Shepperton Studios with Unreal Supervisor Georg Engebakken. Engebakken worked closely with Jamie Payne, Matt Kasmir, and Second Unit Director Wolfgang Stegemann throughout the process.
The first use of ARENA was for virtual scouting sessions. We created an art pass, texture pass and lighting pass on all of the Art Department's set pieces. Following that, virtual scouting sessions were carried out on all the sets, to plan angles and determine logistics, such as parts of the set that would never be seen. This meant ARENA was a critical tool to help production save costs on set build that would not be required.
The next stage was to move to more traditional virtual camera sessions to shoot the two major action sequences in full with ARENA. Production meetings were held throughout the process for feedback and approvals. Engebakken recalls “Jamie (Payne) would host production meetings with the Virtual Camera on a big TV as the centrepoint, where he would talk to each department and plan what was needed from each of them to replicate what was done in Previs. This was a new experience for me. But it worked really well.”
We also provided Graphics throughout post-production, working through combined effort with Jamie Payne, Editor Justine Wright and Matt Kasmir to reinforce key storytelling throughout the movie.
One of the main focuses of this work related to conveying Robey’s techniques and motives in a clear and impactful way. This included building the ‘Victim Farm’ sequence, depicting how Robey ‘haunts’ the internet in search of his victims, and the ‘Red Bunker’, an immersive website used to draw in an unsuspecting audience, promising illicit, extreme pleasures in return for payment.
Using references such as seaside peepshows, online snuff videos and the infamous dark web game Sad Satan, we created an immersive real-time environment in Unreal Engine to showcase Robey’s dark world.
Designed to entice, excite and disorient, the content of the website reflects the real world horrors committed by Robey in the film, with digital recreations of his crimes existing within a series of endless corridors, traps and cells.
Seen in key moments throughout the film, our graphics team, led by Creative Director Chris Lunney, Graphics Supervisor Ian Sargent and Real-Time Supervisor Eolan Power, worked with Jamie and Justine to splice together R&D explorations of the Red Bunker environments with fragments of ‘real world’ horror - footage of Robey’s victims and heinous crimes. These moments take the form of two ‘trailers’, advertising Robey’s big moment, the grand finale, broadcast live from the real-world Red Bunker location.
The Red Bunker was created in Unreal Engine as a real-time environment, which then served as final pixel VFX for a number of shots in the movie, retaining a super stylised look, something the team were particularly pleased with. ‘Although the Red Bunker was worked up to an almost photoreal level, we had full control of how much we could ‘break' it. We felt the super compressed, jagged aesthetic which had evolved through our R&D was incredibly powerful, and we were really pleased when it became apparent that Jamie didn’t want us to ‘clean it up’ for the final 4k versions, as we retained a really raw feeling to the work’ says Lunney.
The VFX work covered a wide range of material including crowd augmentation, rig removals, screen inserts, clean ups, and matte painting.
We are especially proud of the work the team executed on Luther: The Fallen Sun, both aesthetically and for the collaborative nature of the process.
Watch Luther: The Fallen Sun's trailer.