The BBC’s Doctor Who is back, to the delight of television audiences worldwide. The series, which has gone through eight iterations over the years, recently had its season debut, and London-based VFX house Milk played a role.
The studio created the visual effects for the premiere episode “Deep Breath,” which featured Peter Capaldi as Doctor Who. Ben Wheatley directed the 80-minute episode, which was simulcast and screened in cinemas globally on August 23.
The focus of Milk’s work, 87 shots worth, was the sinister and mysterious “Half-Face Man,” who appears throughout the episode. Milk replaced one entire side of the actor Peter Ferdinando’s head in 87 of the 117 digital shots produced by Milk.
Milk created the CG hollow cage-like structure which makes up the missing half of Half-Face Man’s head as well as the visible internal workings of his head which resemble the mechanics of a clock, with moving cogs, pistons and rotating mechanical parts.
Milk also designed and created the T-Rex in the opening sequence, which included making the T-Rex the same height as Big Ben, and the Victorian London cityscape which included CG builds of the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and St Paul’s, along with wide fly-over views of the Thames as the episode reaches its climax.
“The most exciting challenge of “Deep Breath” was realizing the “Half-Face Man,” not least because of the sheer number of shots,” says Will Cohen, CEO and Co-founder of Milk VFX. “We heavily relied upon all aspects of Milk’s pipeline in order to successfully achieve a photoreal look that allowed the audience to totally engage with the character.
“Ben Wheatley and the production team made it a hugely enjoyable collaboration. He worked very closely with us to enable us to achieve work that we are very proud of.”
The studio called on 3D Equalizer, Maya, Arnold and Nuke to complete the work.
Milk is currently in production on the new 12-episode Doctor Who and the new TV drama Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, a seven-part mini-series due to be broadcast on BBC One in the UK in 2015.
On the feature film side, Milk has recently completed work on Paramount Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures’ Hercules for director Brett Ratner.
Milk recently won a British Academy Television Craft Award for its work on the BBC’s Doctor Who 50th anniversary special: “The Day of the Doctor.”