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VFX Breakdown: The Mind-Blowing Visual Effects of Black Sails

March 29, 2016

This week, we shared an exclusive video with the folks over at IndieWire to peel back some of the many layers of visual effects that went into a recent episode of Black Sails.

Collaborations with the likes of Starz, Netflix and HBO have enabled Shade VFX to expand into the world of exceptional television. We’re able to create seamless effects that exist to push storytelling forward, helping shows like Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Olive Kitteridge and of course the aforementioned Black Sails, soar to award-winning heights.

In Season 1 of the pirate adventure series we headed up set extensions that utilized digital recreations, weaving together matte painting, sculpting and modeling, as well as on set work to light and then composite an entire encampment to have it appear as if everything was captured in camera. This time around, with horses, carriages and stunt work in the mix, all new VFX mastery was required to ensure the complicated, action-heavy sequence would appear as seamless as it does in the final product.

Shade’s CEO Bryan Godwin told IndieWire, “Shade was proud to take an even larger role on our second collaboration with Starz and Supervisor/EP Erik Henry for Black Sails Season 3. The epic one-shot carriage chase was some of the most challenging work Shade has done to date. From CG horses, to digital stunt doubles and complex rigid and fluid dynamics, this shot had it all, AND it was 1916 frames long! Working closely with Erik and also Kevin Rafferty to dial in all the animation and effects, we were able to create an incredibly realistic, show-stopping cliffhanger.”

In a recent interview Shade’s Lead FX TD Andres Berkstein, described the technical complexities within the sequence in question that made it one of his favorites he’s worked on. “I really liked working on that because it’s a very complex shot with so many layers and it required every department in CG, from Modeling to Animation to work together with FX very closely, and at the end you can see the amazing work that came out of that collaboration,” he said.

Watch the exclusive video here, then take a look at the final cut of the scene here to see the results here.