Twin Pines, a digital post-production company based in Madrid, took care of the visual effects (VFX) of “La Fortuna”, the new Movistar+ series directed by Alejandro Amenábar. This international production, in which Twin Pines was invited to collaborate, was an exciting challenge for the studio. In total, the series contains approximately 1,000 digitally enhanced shots, which took a year to recreate underwater scenes, an epic naval battle and a road trip to the United States, among many other sequences.
After working together for the first time on the film “While At War”, for which Twin Pines was nominated for best special effects at the Goya Awards, the director and the studio have teamed up again, this time to adapt the novel graphic The Treasure of the Black Swan by Paco Roca and Guillermo Corral for television. The story of this passionate journey through time and its many different scenarios presented a number of unique challenges.
“Without a doubt, the underwater sequences were the most complex, because we had to create them entirely by computer or what we call Full CG,” explains Juanma Nogales and Ana Rubio, the faces behind Twin Pines. “We normally incorporated our effects into the look designed during filming, but in these sequences there were no existing sequences, so we had to create everything from scratch: the art, the environment, the lighting and physics simulations, based on the storyboard and director’s instructions.
As one of the main narrative elements of “La Fortuna”, the underwater world had to be both realistic and cinematic. To this end, Twin Pines created a series of 3D elements including sand, plants, coral, rocks, ships and cannons, which were then computer aged to a convincing effect. Additionally, they also had to create two looks: one for shots from outside a remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) and one from inside the ROV, which would be seen on the ships’ screens. Americans and Spaniards.
Similarly, the impressive naval battle that took place over the course of the series posed one of the biggest technical challenges for Twin Pines. In this key sequence of the series, the visual effects were absolutely crucial: explosions, cannon fire, gunfire, sinking ships and a combination of real and 3D-generated ships were all part of the meticulous and painstaking effects work. specials. “We approached all the 3D elements based on the previews we did with Alejandro and worked until the last second to improve those plans, creating dozens of versions of each piece and working on different phases. . This involved the largest deployment of resources we have ever undertaken so far,” explain Nogales and Rubio.
This particular sequence required countless hours of simulations, rendering machines, motion capture technology, scanning of ships, locations and characters, as well as animatics and chromas. “The Battleship was the first thing we started and the last thing we finished, but it was also the most satisfying sequence for Twin Pines as a VFX studio.”
The simulation of a complete sequence of a car trip on American roads was another of the great challenges of the film. Footage of Spanish roads was used for the exteriors and on-set chroma recording for the interiors. The 3D composition included the creation of the road signs and the different landscape elements like bridges, buildings, speed barriers and cars moving in both directions.
Due to the complexity of the project, especially in the historical period scenes, the plan was to start in the summer of 2019 with the prior scanning of the real ships that were to be used for filming. Then comes the preview of the sequences with the scanned material and a study of the possible camera angles with Amenábar.
The end result was approximately 1,000 VFX shots throughout the series for which the most advanced software in the industry was used: Nuke for compositing; Houdini for simulations; Maya and Clarisse for the 3D scenes; and Arnold for rendering. In addition, the working method of Twin Pines always involves the development of specific tools by its team of engineers with the aim of optimizing the results and adapting to the needs and requirements of each client.
This project has come at one of the best times for Twin Pines, following the expansion of its headquarters with a major overhaul of its technology infrastructure and the recruitment of new creative talent, not to mention recently winning a Goya award. of the best special effects for his work in “Akelarre” by Pablo Agüero. “From a visual effects perspective, being able to bring to life the complicated scenes that ‘La Fortuna’ demanded was an incredible experience. We successfully met challenges that were at the level of the biggest studios in the world in a project with high international visibility,” conclude Rubio and Nogales.
To watch a reel of Twin Pines with effects from ‘La Fortuna’, follow this link: https://vimeo.com/662237592