Doctor Who Christmas Special 2014: Last Christmas

TV Special, 2014

Milk created the visual effects for the BBC’s 1 hour Doctor Who Christmas Special: Last Christmas, which aired on Christmas Day 2014.


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Milk created the visual effects for the BBC’s 1 hour Doctor Who Christmas Special: Last Christmas, which aired on Christmas Day 2014. The work (61 shots) included: CG reindeer, CG sleigh, digi-double actors on Santa’s sleigh; environments including – an epic helicopter shot flying over a CG polar landscape with effects: falling snow, mist and northern lights; CG ‘Dream Crabs’ and the disintegration of the Dream Crabs. An accurate, realistic CG London cityscape viewed from the air as Santa’s sleigh travelled through it; while ensuring there was a magical feel to the whole sleigh sequence.

The main challenge was the Santa’s sleigh sequence as it involved actorsshot on a green screen, CG reindeer and CG backgrounds. Delivering almost 30 sleigh sequence shots, all of which were shot on green screen meant there was a lot of green spill on Santa’s white fur trim to clean up and complicated keys due to hair blowing in the wind. Finally snow, mist and clouds were added in – while maintaining continuity throughout the sequence.

The Milk team then recreated a geographically accurate 3D model of central London, with long render times, all overseen by Darren Byford. The overarching challenge was achieving all of this within 5 weeks! CG Reindeer- Achieving realistic and complex animation of the three reindeer in a short space of time. Particularly getting the animation of the bucking Rudolf to work with the plate of Nick Frost on the rocking horse on set. This required accurate matchmove by Milk’s David Jones and Robert Nzengou-Tayo to support the animation. Milk’s Dave Bennett oversaw the animation of the reindeer, while Dom Alderson created their look development and grooming. The Polar landscape establishing, opening shot was also challenging as it involved blending (using cinema 4D) from 3D dmp into the polar base plate shot in studio and projected on matching geometry from photo scan. This was achieved by Milk’s Simon Wicker.

Kit/software used: Nuke, Houdini, Maya with Yeti for fur grooming, rendering in Arnold. Photoscan, Cinema 4D and Photoshop.

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Louise Hastings VFX Producer
Salvador Zalvidea VFX Supervisor
Pedro Andrade Comp Lead
Darren Byford CG Supervisor

Mariangela Suma VFX Co-ordinator
Mark Bright VFX Editor

Sam Lucas Modelling/Texture Supervisor
Neil Roche Rigging Supervisor
Amy Felce Matchmove Supervisor
David Bennett Animation Lead
James Reid FX Supervisor
Simon Wicker DMP Supervisor


Jason Brown Modeller/Texturer
Stefan Brown Modeller/Texturer
Marc O-Kane Modeller/Texturer

Will Pryor Rigger

David Jones Tracker
Gavin Platt Tracker
Dan Horne Tracker
Sonia Wakefield-Ioannou Tracker

Ruth Bailey Animator
Joe Tarrant Animator
Toby Winder Animator

Howard Margolius FX TD
Muzaffer Korkut FX TD
Dominic Carus FX TD
Nick Webber FX TD

Tavis Roberts Lighting TD
Jamie Stewart Lighting TDDom Alderson Reindeer Groom & Lookdev

Christoph Unger Matte Painter

Aurore de Blois Compositor
Jorge Oliva Compositor
Alvaro Cajal Compositor
Frederic Heymans Compositor
James Moxon Compositor
Theajo Nagarajan Compositor
Alex Balmer Junior Compositor
Peter Dudley Junior Compositor
Elisa Simoncelli Junior Compositor
Kenn Kalvik Junior Compositor

Tomi George Roto Prep
Chris West Roto Prep
Jay Murray Roto Prep

Awright Guv’nah

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