Sci-fi thriller Raised by Wolves, HBO Max's critically acclaimed new series, revolves around two androids set up to raise human children on a mysterious virgin planet. As the fragile human colony threatens to be torn apart by religious differences, the androids learn that controlling people's beliefs is a treacherous and difficult task. The series is produced by Ridley Scott's Scott Free Productions, with Scott, Aaron Guzikowski, David W. Zucker (The Man in the Castle), Jordan Sheehan (The Terror), Adam Kolbrenner (Prisoner) and Mark Huffam (The Martian) serving as executive producers.
Collaboration with VFX supervisor Ray McIntyre Jr. and VFX producer Ruth Hauer during post-production from June 2019 to summer 2020 MR. X. delivered 476 recordings with visual effects, the work being split between the Toronto and Bangalore studios.
MR draws on Scott's sketches and storyboards. X VFX Supervisor Eric Robinson and VFX Producer Sam Banack lead their team to ensure that any visual effects produced are in line with Scott's iconic direction and style. Working closely with production, the team conducted thorough visual research, drawing on real-world references that would influence the CG environments, creatures, and effects they'd created for this otherworldly series.
Robinson points out the close collaboration between production and MR. The X team said, "This was one of the funniest and most creative shows I've worked on at MR in over 11 years. X. We had the client's trust to come up with ideas. Not all ideas stuck, but we persisted to give them a WOW! "
Much of the MR. X's work focused on the Necromancer, the metallic killer version of the Android mother. To give the character a compelling metallic appearance, the team pulled photo references of the aged bronzed Atlas statue in Rockefeller Center in New York City. This meant drawing from images of Atlas using different lighting conditions (natural light, flash photography) at any time of the day to ensure that the bronze responded realistically to its surroundings.
The necromancer's muscles were a different challenge. After a scan from Mother (Amanda Collins), the VFX team had to transform the character into the necromancer and back again, so important proportions had to match. Since the Necromancer is an extremely powerful version of the Android, more muscular than the mother, the team had to make sure that the transformations were subtle and properly contoured around her body.
One of the most challenging sequences was the hallway scene in which Mother attacks the Mithraic Arc with a fatal scream attack, wiping out everyone in her path. MR. X drew from on-set photography and Scott's own conceptual sketch of the aftermath of the devastating attack with a hallway full of blood. The Necromancer's Scream was an all-in-comp effect that used distortion and glow to create the appearance of sound waves directed from mother's face towards their targets. As a reaction to the fatal scream attack, the simulation of the blood tendrils required weightlessness and a feeling of otherworldliness. The MR. The X-Team had to show that the necromancer possesses powers that go far beyond the capabilities of a human.
Source: MR. X.
Dan Sarto is the Editor and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.