With the (virtual) BAFTA Television Craft Awards this Friday evening and Milk’s work on Good Omens up for an award in the special, graphic and visual effects category, our Emmy Award-winning VFX Supervisor Jean-Claude Deguara (AKA ‘JC’) revisits his best moments from the project.
“Making the VFX for Good Omens was one of the most enjoyable projects I’ve ever been part of. It’s not often you get to create VFX in a comedy context and we absolutely loved the opportunity to help bring to life (author and showrunner) Neil Gaiman and (director) Douglas Mackinnon’s vision for Good Omens and to honour the wonderful imagination of Terry Pratchett. (Good Omens was adapted for the screen by Neil, from his comedy novel co-written with Terry in 1990).
It’s tricky to say which was the most memorable from our list of creative briefs….to create a 400 foot giant Satan that has to burst out of the tarmac on an airfield; to recreate an alien spaceship with lolly sticks for legs, based on the drawings of Douglas’ 10 year old daughter; to work out how to visually show David Tennant’s demonic character Crowley travelling through the internet in pursuit of another demon or to fill a call centre with maggots!?!
As we broke down the scripts with Neil and Douglas in the early days of the project, it was clear the challenge was going to be the sheer variety and volume of the VFX work – 650 shots across six episodes – added to a fast 5 month post production turnaround with a VFX crew of 60!
Many of our bigger VFX features like Satan and the Kraken, only appear once in the entire series, as the story moves swiftly towards the Apocalypse (which has to be stopped by tea time!); so we had to strike a really careful balance between delivering impact, yet ensuring they were grounded in reality and so immediately recognisable.
Having continuous access to Neil throughout production and post was brilliant…
Having continuous access to Neil throughout production and post was brilliant – he would often quote directly from the book to guide us creatively as we developed concepts. There was no question that couldn’t be answered! You don’t often get that level of detail when you’re developing VFX.
We created everything from creatures (a Hellhound; a demon and a snake as well as Satan and the Kraken) to environments (Heaven – which was a penthouse with views of major world landmarks and a busy Soho street); to feathered wings and a whole range of effects work including setting the M25 on fire!
But my favourite part of all the work we created was the beautiful digital Bentley that you see the demon Crowley speeding around London in. Crowley had to drive it through ‘hell fire’ on the M25 when it car catches fire and burns continuously as he heads towards the site of Armageddon for the climax of the story.
The production located a real Bentley 3.5 Derby Coupe Thrupp & Maberly 1934 and we modelled it in intricate detail to create a CG asset that would hold up in a range of full screen shots. One of the most brilliant moments for me and my crew was when the production brought the Bentley to our studio in Fitzrovia one day, so that they could see it in close up detail, to touch and feel it for the ultimate reference.
We’re really excited to have received a BAFTA TV Craft nomination for Good Omens and I’m incredibly proud of every member of our talented team and all the hard work they put in.
Congratulations too, to our partners in crime Real SFX and Molinare’s colourist Gareth Spensley – who we share the nomination with.
Watch our VFX reel here…
Milk was the principal VFX vendor for Amazon Studios and the BBC’s six-part TV adaptation of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s acclaimed apocalyptic comedy Good Omens – creating 650 shots within a five month post turnaround – all overseen by award-winning VFX supervisor and Milk co-founder Jean-Claude Deguara.
Equal parts humour, horror, fantasy and drama, Good Omens was adapted by Neil Gaiman who also served as Showrunner and directed by Douglas Mackinnon.
The End of the World is coming, which means a fussy Angel and a loose-living Demon who’ve become overly fond of life on Earth are forced to form an unlikely alliance to stop Armageddon. But they have lost the Antichrist, an 11-year-old boy unaware he’s meant to bring upon the end of days, forcing them to embark on an adventure to find him and save the world before it’s too late.
Watch Good Omens on Amazon Prime Video