Reconstructing 16th-century Spain with VFX

Juanma Nogales of VFX studio Twin Pines speaks about the use of Nule Studio software at FMX 2018

Twin Pines, the Madrid-based VFX studio, is responsible for the visual effects for the TV series La Peste (The Plague), a Spanish production by Movistar+ which is currently selling rights all over the world and clocking in as the costliest TV series ever made in Spain. A team of 35 VFX artists created over 500 shots over a period of ten months for this story set in 16th-century Seville.

Source: TwinPines

The biggest challenge was digitally recreating the city of Seville of the period with the same historical seriousness as a history documentary, as stated by the VFX studio. To this end, throughout the production process it worked alongside a whole series of historical advisors, documentary makers and an art director for VFX. The development of visual layers and the creation of 3D elements by computer relied heavily on maps, etchings and paintings from the period.  

“The job of reconstructing the city was formidable given that there is practically nothing existing today of 16th-century Seville”, explained Juanma Nogales, VFX supervisor at Twin Pines. “It required a painstaking process combining historical seriousness with aesthetic taste.”

360 degree moving cameras require immersive techniques

Before / Quelle: TwinPines
After / Quelle: TwinPines

 

Twin Pines started working on the project a long time before shooting actually begun. First of all, there was an initial phase of contextualisation, which was then followed by execution, and this took up to ten months of work.

“One of the biggest technical problems we came across was that, unlike other productions we had done before, we didn’t work in fields but in different sets in which the cameras moved freely in 360 degrees. Using immersive techniques, we had to insert the computer-generated elements”, recalled Nogales.

One of the most complex parts to replicate was the port of Seville, which was the most important in the world at that time. The VFX studio recorded several images of the Guadalquivir river around the area of the Isleta in Coria del Río, which was then digitally mastered to achieve an end result faithful to history. The team also had to model the ships and galleons in the port in 3D, which were then integrated into the different scenes. 

At the beginning of the first episode, the main character appears on horseback looking down on Seville from a distance. The only real thing in this scene was the horse. In fact, the character was on a hill overlooking a motorway and, using a green screen, 16th-century Seville was reconstructed using computer-generated 3D elements. 

Juanma Nogales talks about Nule Studio software at FMX

Before / Quelle: TwinPines
After / Quelle: TwinPines

 

In addition, the visual effects in The Plague included a major work of digital extension of the sets, the reconstruction of natural spaces, the integration of backdrops, and a long etcetera. The whole process generated a volume of data for VFX of around 50 terabytes and over 19,500 hours of rendering. Nuke Studio software by Foundry played an instrumental role in the project by enabling VFX, editing and finishing with one single application.

Juanma Nogales is taking part in a talk on FMX on Wednesday 25 April at 17:00, precisely to talk about the use of Nuke Studio in The Plague, as part of the symposium on digital visual arts in Europe. 

The complete overview of this year’s FMX – Conference on Animation, Effects, Games and Immersive Media can be seen here

Created by Alberto Rodríguez and Rafael Cobos, the first season of The Plague, consisting of six 50-minute episodes, can be seen on Movistar+. Following the results since it was first screened, the company has already confirmed a second season for 2019.

To view a reel of Twin Pines with effects from The Plague, please click here.

 

www.twinpines.es