Digital Imaging FX VFX Supervisor Tanvir Hanif spoke to Broadcast Tech about the work that went into the latest Sky comedy series.
Starring Joe Gilgun and Michelle Keegan, Brassic is set in the North West of England and follows the misadventures of a group of friends as they try to make ends meet by committing petty crimes.
The first episode of the third series aired on October 6, 2021, with the entire series now available on demand. Filming for the fourth season has started.
Hanif continued in his role from the previous series as VFX Supervisor using DaVinci Resolve’s Fusion for composition, while 3D work was completed in Maya.
As the series grew in popularity, so did the ambitions of the production team, and the third series was no different. âThere are something like 400 VFX shots in the eight-episode series, which is pretty staggering for a dramatic comedy,â Hanif said.
Visual effects are a vital part of the entire production, at the start of production on series three, Hanif’s team sat down with the producers to discuss the scripts, defining key narratives and scenes. . He explained, âIt’s our job to evaluate the script and decide where the visual effects will be implemented; really, we are problem solvers.
Digital Imaging FX works closely with Core Post, which evaluates Brassic in DaVinci Resolve, and other departments, such as set design, costumes and camera, to enable production. Hanif said, “Producers make decisions on large setups and assemblies, based on time and budget, often the bottom third is physically built, and we create the rest.”
Episode Six of Series Three contains one of the most ambitious sets of visual effects to date. When Erin (Michelle Keegan) and her friends believe they accidentally killed the local bully in the episode, they desperately put his body in a car trunk and attempt to throw it off a cliff in a quarry.
âWe couldn’t put a real car in the quarry; the only way to make the footage work was through VFX, âHanif said. âIt took about six weeks to produce and required a significant budgetary investment, but we built a car in CGI, drove it down a hill and into the quarry floor, without VFX, the episode would not have been possible.
âWe also built the surrounding area as a digital matte painting to create a more detailed and interesting landscape. We only kept about 20% of the original image and built the remaining 80%, for 15-20 different camera angles that had to be photoreal. “
This was a scene in which Digital Imaging FX worked closely with Core Post, where it was essential to keep details like tire slippage when the car hit the quarry floor. Hanif revealed, âCore Post will always ask ‘what do you want to achieve in this scene?’ and help us achieve the desired result. With both the note and the visual effects achieved in DaVinci Resolve, this created opportunities for collaboration and efficiency in the workflow.
Hanif added, âIt’s probably in the rural setting, but Brassic still features animals. We put lions, ponies and all kinds in Brassic. In episode two of series three, we had to add a snap of a goldfish using a piece of carrot as a substitute!
âIt’s got to the point where the crew are saying ‘we’ll do that tan later.’ It’s a blessing and a curse, but it shows just how dependent the team has become on our ability to deliver. under difficult circumstances. If the goldfish scene needed re-shooting it would have had a significant impact on the budget, but we managed it afterward. “
In Series 3, an entire episode focuses on the opportunities presented by acquiring âsamplesâ from an award-winning bull, which has allowed VFX to deliver and contribute an element of creative storytelling.
In the episode, an illustrated ’80s-style movie poster appears as the course is agreed, summarizing the episode’s case and theme. âIt’s typical of the tongue in cheek, Brassic style, while adding visual variety to the narrative. The poster was a real success; the crew and the executives asked for impressions, âexplains Hanif.
Filming the actual episode posed its own challenges, as Hanif explains. âWe couldn’t just film the bull and the actors in the same space. It’s just too dangerous. Scenes with the bull were shot and then replayed on set for the actors to play the rest of the scene.
âWe used QTake and CGI strings to connect the protagonists to the bull on the stage. We then spent a lot of time painting the nose ring and digitally reconstructing the muzzle to give it the natural movement we wanted. In total, the episode of the bull alone had more than 100 VFX shots.
Besides large sets and animals, visual effects were used for green screen work while adding signs on stores, removing branding, removing people from scenes, and removing tattoos.
Hanif explained, âIn one particular scene, a character has his eyebrows shaved. However, it was shot out of sequence, so we had to add the eyebrows to keep it going. It’s amazing what you can do in VFX these days, and even the directors are surprised.
âWe also used the Fusion tools to merge takes, where one actor has a great performance, we can stitch it together with another, giving the director the chance to get the best performance out of multiple takes in one cut. “
âIt’s a great show and it’s a pleasure to work with the team,â Hanif concluded. “Every week there’s another scam or gag in the script, and another creative challenge to overcome.”