MPC drives Curfew to the finish line with stunning VFX across a series of pivotal scenes

Curfew, an eight-part Sky Original Production from Tiger Aspect Productions, in association with Moonage Pictures, follows the story of ordinary people competing in the world’s fastest, most furious, illegal night-time street race.

MPC worked closely with series Executive Producer and Director, Colm McCarthy, and the series VFX team (Steve Street and Jakub Chilczuk) to deliver various VFX shots across episodes 4, 7 and 8. MPC ended up delivering 310 shots at 4k, covering a wide scope of work, often turning around notes on 100 shots a day.

Marcus Dryden, Creative Director at MPC said:

“Working with Colm and the Curfew VFX team was amazing; all their notes were in service of the narrative and the viewer’s journey was always front and centre in all the feedback. This clear and concise creative direction drove the team forward, as though we at MPC were on the journey with them. Colm, Steve and Jakub have such a high standard of shot execution and technical and creative understanding of cinema and VFX, they were incredible to work with: we learned a lot from them.”

Marcus and David Filipe, MPC VFX Supervisor, describe how MPC helped bring some of Curfew’s most memorable scenes to life below.

Kiloran House 

Marcus Dryden: “We were responsible for a range of enhancements to Kiloran house, which by the end of episode 7 is on lockdown. Our brief was to design a window cladding to not only secure the windows but also make it look like it had been designed and installed by a hi-tech company. We did many rounds of design changes and interactions with our concept team to develop a creative and functional solution.

We did a bunch of daytime wide shots of the house and created two close-ups, which were not shot on location. In editorial, the production needed some pickups to help tell the story, so using on-set ref photography we rebuilt the close-ups in Nuke and DMP.

Creature FX

David Filipe: “In episode 7 we were assigned creature skin – arm and body augmentation – essentially adapting the onset prosthetics to sell the creature effects. This was quite challenging as the creature arms and hands were behind a frosted glass door and moving very erratically as creatures do! We tried quite a few methodologies but found the ‘smart vector’ tools in Nuke a game changer for sticking textures to the arms”.

Race for their lives

Marcus Dryden: “In Episode 8, for the final race, we developed the look and feel of the car scenes from green screen plates and BG environment camera array plates. We developed a ‘no key’ math based procedural extraction process due to the number of shots we needed to iterate and evolve.

As the car scenes developed we created a modular interactive in-car lighting system to relight the actors and interior of the cars based on the BG environment plates to sell the authenticity of the comps making this procedural and quick to update.

The final challenge was creating a ‘car-shake’ system that replicated the complex movement of a car in motion. We had four cars all with different suspensions and three main road surfaces. The system we developed used noise generation and basic expressions to generate movement. We studied real car photography of the vehicles to get a sense of movement and also studied camera movement at various distances to the subject from a camera operator so we could emulate this with our systems.”

Return to Kiloran House 

David Filipe: “For the scenes where we return to Kiloran House, MPC were tasked with aging the house and the environment.

To do this we built geo for the environment topography. For the house geo we used a clean-up photogrammetry from Onset and we projected textures and DMP onto the house and environment. Once we analysed the plate photography we realized we would also need to build digital greens: grass so we could emulate the movement of the greens in the plate, match wind direction and lighting. The comp was challenging due to the variable light conditions of the shot and the unusual aberrations of the lenses. We completely removed the flare and rebuilt it to match the scan flare and constructed a lens deformation/convolution/aberration to match the photographic lens to integrate the DMP and CG greens onto and around Kiloran House to help the audience believe that time had passed.”