Sherlock: The Abominable Bride

Milk created all the visual effects for the BBC/Hartswood’s Emmy winning and BAFTA-nominated Sherlock special episode: The Abominable Bride.

The hotly anticipated ninety minute episode aired on television and cinemas worldwide on New Year’s Day 2016.

Set in 1895 in Victorian London and the present day, Sherlock and Watson try to crack an unsolved case.

Watch the official Trailer

Number of shots: 100

VFX brief & challenges:


Milk was briefed to enhance and perfect Victorian London; creating a digital matte painting street extension of Ludgate, adding additional people and carriages and a 2D clean to help set the scene and add scope and scale in Victorian London.

The team were also tasked with transforming present day London locations Piccadilly and Baker Street to their Victorian period versions – undertaking a challenging crane shot, a street extension, adding and removing people and a challenging 2D clean up of an aerial shot to hide present day road markings.

Said Milk’s JC Deguara, VFX Supervisor: “Show runner Steven Moffat’s brief was to accurately replicate the busy, chaotic streets of Victorian London, teeming with people and heavy traffic – carriages and people dodging between them. We studied old footage of the period for reference. Mark Gatiss also gave us reference imagery which included a caricatured illustration of Ludgate Hill to show the mood and feel they wanted to achieve.”


Milk created a digital waterfall –using water simulation effects to add movement to a practical waterfall. Milk blended the waterfall into a wider shot, which included a 3D extension of a rock face and digital matte painting of the valley for a scene in which Sherlock regains consciousness and finds himself on a mountain precipice next to the waterfall.

Milk made the water effects for the sequence in which Sherlock falls into the waterfall. The challenge was to ensure the water continued moving and interacting with Sherlock as realistically as possible despite the fact that Benedict Cumberbatch was actually static.


Milk created the sequence in which Sherlock’s mind map re-imagines and dissects the scene where the Abominable Bride is shooting into the street from a balcony and examines it from 360. Milk made the rotating camera viewpoint – so that the scene can be visually examined from every angle in Sherlock’s mind. The Milk team blended two plates to create the rotating 180-degree camera move – which had been shot on a camera track around actor who remained static for the take – revealing an outdoor set version of the lounge area of Sherlock’s Baker Street house. Extensive and intricate tracking work was required to map the shot perfectly as well as period clean up, and digital matte painting set extension work.


A key challenge was designing the concluding sequence in which Sherlock looks out of the window of his Baker Street house in Victorian London and sees modern London outside. As he walks towards the camera, the camera tracks back away from him, pulling out through the window to reveal the modern Baker Street exterior of his house. The challenge was to seamlessly execute the transition through the window and blend the Victorian interior and modern exterior sequences which had been shot in two separate locations.

To resolve and blend the two shots, Milk removed the interior camera track and then created the illusion of continuous pull out through the window, matching up and continuing the original camera move with the modern Baker Street exterior plate. A crane was used to shoot this second plate and seamlessly reveal the wider exterior. The team then composited the two plates together to ensure the brickwork and window frame matched perfectly.


Milk created a dramatic head wound for Moriarty when he shoots himself in the head in one of Sherlock’s dream sequences. To achieve this Andrew Scott wore a circular green screen head cap, with tracking markers on it for reference when the scene was shot. Milk then modelled a skull with a hole in it and a created a wound.

  • Director
    Douglas Mackinnon
  • Producer
    Sue Vertue
  • Production Companies
    Hartswood Films, BBC Cymru Wales & Masterpiece
  • Distributor
  • Milk VFX Supervisor
    Murray Barber
  • Milk VFX Producer
    Natalie Reid
  • Release Date
    1 January 2016