SHOWRUNNERS : David Lynch / Mark Frost
PRODUCTION : CBS
VFX SUPERVISOR : Pierre Buffin / Stéphane Vogel
VFX PRODUCER : Kristina Prilukova
MAKING OF : Charles Labriet
NUMBER OF SHOTS : 213
TWIN PEAKS - Season 3
We made a total of 213 VFX shots for the seriewhich represent 40 minutes of VFX. Our work was very various, from green screen extraction to an abstract ride inside a nuclear explosion, via a rejuvenation of Laura Palmer and a Frogmoth. In all cases, it was a really creative process through the ideas of David Lynch.
As we only had general briefs from David Lynch, due to the confidentiality of the project, the design and research part of the project was the most and the main moment.
Laura and Sarah's face opening – 4 shots
We had to make 2 types of face opening. The first one with Laura needed a white bright light. The second one with Sarah Palmer needed a black and fleshy color. (Later, Lynch also added a creature inside Sarah’ face opening.) To build this effect, we needed to recreate a CG head and a CG hand based on the filmed references in order to rotoscope the animation.
White Horse – 2 shots
For these 2 shots, we needed to recreate a CG white horse, similar to the one in the previous seasons of Twin Peaks. We found an albino horse in South East of France to take some reference pictures for the textures and videos for the animation of the ears and tail. The modeling was based on the references from the previous seasons.
Cooper Floats – 3 shots
In this sequence, Cooper falls on a Glass Box, hanged on a building in New York, then he “goes” inside the box and floats inside the building. We just did the part inside the building. For this effect, we had two shots. A first one for the background, a second one on a green screen with Cooper floating. Our work consisted in cleaning up the shot of Cooper with wires and restore the suit to remove the pleats on the jacket and on the pants, but above all, we needed to stabilize the green screen shot as it was shot 4 months after the background in order to match the camera movement of the background.
New York – 1 shot
We created a CG building and environment of New York to introduce the position of the Glass Box where Cooper falls.
Black Sea – 3 shots
We created a generic CG asset for the ocean. The brief was to create a black and calm sea with a sky similar to a violet bubble.
Dougie – 6 shots
In this sequence, Dougie changes, morphs, gets distorted until disappearing. We worked on the beginning with the hand becoming really small, and the shoulders starting falling with a simple 2D effect.
Black Box – 20 shots
This sequence shows Cooper standing with Naido on a Black Box floating in space.We had to do trackings, green screen extractions and wiresremoval for each shot from this sequence.The main challenge was to recreate a CG head of Major Briggs,who says “Blue Rose” while moving from right to left through dark clouds and stars. As the actor Don S. Davis died in 2008,and as David Lynch wanted the same face (but stretched and a bit transparent) as in the two first seasons of the show, we just had pictures from this period to recreate the full head and animate it.
Socket effects – 12 shots
These 12 shots were separated in 3 sequences. The first one where Cooper is attracted by the socket, the second one where Cooper is deformed and sucked into the power socket, the third one where Cooper comes out of a power socket as a tube and finally takes shape of his real body. The first idea was to stretch the head and the body to get it “sucked” by the socket. Finally this effect was too comical for Lynch, and he decided to add smoke on Cooper as he’s being deformed and sucked into the socket.As Cooper rematerializes in the last sequence, we also see some smoke covering him and finallydisappearing and revealing his body.
Good and Bad Tree – 29 shots
To work on these shots, we first created a CG tree based on photos of practical tree sculpture created by Lynch. There had to be two different types of it: The Good and The Bad Tree. The Good Tree had to be pink, move smoothly, head slightly swelling in and out like a balloon, its arms sending out some random electric current. At one point, a Statue morphs into the yellow Bad Tree. This one needed to be animated more violently, with its branches bending out and trying to catch Cooper, also sending out
electricity, but screaming with its mouth wide open.
As Tree had to speak on some shots, Lynch sent us some filmed footage of his mouth so we could match to his lips movement. We created a system that enabled to report automatically the lips movement via optical flow, and used the texture from Lynch’ lips.
Nuclear Explosion Sequence – 1 shot
The Nuclear Explosion sequence represented a great challenge, as it is a 11 minutes long full CG ride, composed of many different environments:
- We start with a wide shot on a CG nuclear explosion happening in the middle of a desert environment, then camera comes closer to the mushroom cloud and we enter inside it.
- As we enter into the cloud, we follow an edit composed of many abstract explosions. We made several tests on many themes (smoke, fire, dust, bubbles...) so that Lynch could make a selection for his edit. This part ends by arriving into a gas station (we didn’t work on this part, this is an edit done by Lynch).
- We then enter into the gas station and arrive in a milky environment. We discover a strange floating CG creature with reversed thumbs, spitting a solid liquid, eggs and finally a black orb with Bob character (created for the final scene) inside it.
- We then go back into an abstract bright world, and we see a golden orb, floating in the middle of a bright environment and particles. We pop into this orb and arrive into the next part.
- It starts with endless red particles above a violet CG sea. Lynch didn’t want the sea to be realistic or have a real physical force. After some time, we approach a CG rock with crashing waves and a CG factory on it. The rock had to look gigantic, with just a small slot on the upper side of the house. We imagined this building based on sketches sent by Lynch, and made several proposals for the design before approving the final look. The scene ends as we enter into a small slot in the wall.
Inside the Fireman House – 19 shots
The Fireman scene is composed of many different elements:
- First, we had to comp the background and the Fireman character plate shot separately on green screen, in order to make him float in the air.
- The main challenge in this scene was creating a dreamy “vision” coming from Fireman’s face. Based on a drawing received from Lynch, we had to create a moving image composed of golden particles, forming little by little and finally creating the desired pattern. We had a lot of exchanges with Lynch to finalize the look and movement of the particles.
- When the image is finally formed, we see a golden orb coming out of a hole. For this part, we created a CG orb. We made various tests to find the convenient look for the color, reflection, transparency, etc.
- On 3 shots, we see the character Dido holding thgolden orb between her hands. The original plate washot with a transparent orb lit from inside. To replace thpractical orb by the CG one, we made a matchmove of the orb and mattes of Dido’s hands. We also added some reflection on Dido for better integration.
- We also had to create a CG asset for the machinery system that “absorbs” the orb into it before releasing it into the screen. Based on a very simple sketch made by Lynch, we worked on the modeling, texturing and rendering of the machine. The animation was done based on our discussions with the director.
- On one shot, we also have a view of the machine room, composed of CG machines and lightning FX.
Frogmoth – 5 shots
It was an exciting challenge to create the Frogmoth : a strange creature between the moth and the frog. We first received a drawing from Lynch for the back part of the body. We then worked on the design to validate the look with the director, before proceeding to the setup. It was nevertheless a continuous creative process, as the setup had to change a few times to get the desired shape and textures. We also had to find a convenient animation for this imaginary character, who had to be a nasty and scary animal, moving slowly, but still be able to fly without getting comical. The rigging was done with muscles and grease. We also added some hair.
Vortex – 6 shots
We had to create two kinds of imaginary “vortex”, taking us into another dimension. These imaginary tunnels were added on the live plates, taking a part of the surrounding elements (leaves, clouds...) into the hole. We did a lot of tests to find the convenient effect which was quite abstract at first.
Richard Disintegration – 7 shots
In this sequence, we had to make Richard character disintegrate and disappear. For each shot, we had a plate with Richard’s acting and another one with a flare created by a special lightning machine. The flares were added to the Richard plate, but the rays were adjusted to match more the director’s vision.
Also we created some particle FX to show the disintegration of the character by the light. Clean plates were used to cover the parts where Richard’s body was already disintegrated and fallen into particles.
Young Laura – 10 shots
The great challenge of these shots was to make the actress Sheryl Lee look 25 years younger, in order to match the footage from the first season. It was quite tricky to find an effect that makes her naturally young, and does not look like a “plastic surgery”. We used a mixed technique with 2D morph and hand-painted key frames interpolated by the “optical flow”.
Black Orb - 56 shots
The black orb had to be a big tar-textured ball with Bob character inside it. We first made some researches to find the right texture and transparency for the orb.
Then, we had to create a CG Bob to place it inside the orb. As the actor died in 1995, there were only a few reference images of him available. We could only use some very limited footage from the first seasons that matched the desired acting. A CG model of Bob was created for this purpose, and we used the selected Bob’s images to help the texturing.
Also the animation had to be very specific, as Bob needed to be screaming and angry. We worked on an animatic to define the speed and the trajectory which had to show us the violence of the character.
On 4 shots, we also made the CG Orb come out of Cooper’s body, by tearing apart his practical t-shirt and adding some blood textures to the wound.