Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them

The adventures of writer Newt Scamander in New York’s secret community of witches and wizards seventy years before Harry Potter reads his book in school.

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Milk created approximately 100 supporting VFX shots for Warner Bros’ Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, working closely with Director David Yates and VFX Supervisor Christian Manz.

Their work includes CG origami rats which fold themselves from enchanted sheets of paper; and set extensions in the Macusa Wand Office

‘Macusa’ Wand office sequence:

The majority of our work was focused on the Wand Office where we created a full CG set extension to make the room look much more vast, with rows upon rows of magical animated desks.

Our initial brief was to add CG activity on a ‘hero’ desk within the plate. The brief evolved into a full CG replacement of the room from mid-ground to background. The work consisted of extending the room to infinity and populating it with multiple desks whose contents are controlled by magic. We created the Wand Office environment and then added the animation for each shot afterwards.

Enchanted CG desks and origami rats:

For each CG desk we created animated sheets of paper, a typewriter, a rubber stamp and a quill. Each one of these plays a part in telling the story of the ‘life cycle’ of every enchanted sheet of paper in the Wand Office: From blank sheet to animated origami rat!

We made nine different desks each with different props and variations of animation. The desks had loop-able animation and were procedurally added into the scene with the animation randomly offset to show constant magical desk activity.

We created each sequence cycle so that a sheet of paper starts on the desk, goes through the CG typewriter, is signed by a CG quill and then folds itself into an animated origami paper rat –which then scurries up into CG ‘message’ pipe to be sent to another part of the Ministry of Magic.

We spent time on the look development of the rats to test the most effective way to achieve the paper/origami rat effects. To achieve the origami rat transformation we folded a real piece of paper based on real life origami and then worked backwards to unfold it and used this as a guide to build the rig. We then recreated the folds in 3D.

We built several rigs in Maya for the origami rat. A rig for the piece of paper going into the typewriter, another rig of a free form rat for animation, and a rig for a piece of paper transforming into the rat.

The exported animation was then combined and simulated in Houdini by our effects team. The geometry was subdivided and a combination of deformers and cloth solvers were used to achieve the paper quality.

We made bespoke ‘hero’ animation on specific shots for key moments to show origami rats performing actions such as jumping off the desk, sniffing things and fighting.

Set extensions

We made numerous set extensions in the ‘Swooping Evil’ sequence, working in tandem with Image Engine. Milk’s task was to replicate CG pillars to infinity to create a cavernous environment for Newt and Tina to run through.

We also undertook set top-ups for the Major Investigations Department sequence.

Magic effects

We worked on some shots creating the famous Harry Potter ‘Apparating’ effect. To achieve this we made a 3D matchmove of the actors apparating, then transformed the geometry to cloth ribbons following a curve force. The cloth geometry was then used to emit magical particles. The effect was finished by our 2D compositing team who added distortion and pulsing flares.

We created multiple wand effects including the famous ‘Obliviate’ effect, all created in 2D compositing. We also created wand ‘zapping’ effects and additional magical effects such as Newt Scamander’s magical ‘self-tying’ bow tie. In addition we animated a Golden Phoenix statue in the lobby of the Macusa office introduction shot.

Animated portraits

We brought an assortment of magical posters to life – with animated illustration for the Blind Pig sequence. This included a character called Madame Picquary: we created animated portraits of her in the background of various shots within the Macusa building including the Wand Office. We also animated an illustrated poster at the exterior of the speakeasy The Blind Pig.

  • Director
    David Yates
  • Producers
    David Heyman, J. K. Rowling, Steve Kloves & Lionel Wigram
  • Production Companies
    Warner Bros. Pictures & Heyday Films
  • Distributor
    Warner Bros. Pictures
  • Milk VFX Supervisor
    Nicolas Hernandez
  • Milk VFX Producer
    Louise Hastings
  • Release Date
    10 November 2016