With a show like A Series of Unfortunate Events, half the fun is in the VFX. As the Netflix series prepared for its second season return, Technicolor VFX house MR. X was onboard to deliver 525 shots over the tight 7+ month production schedule, including full CG versions of outlandish environments and photoreal creatures. The series follows orphan siblings Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire on a seemingly never-ending quest to escape from their evil guardian Count Olaf (Neil Patrick Harris) and a series of increasingly horrible situations and locations (and yes, events).
Working with showrunner Barry Sonnenfeld and Netflix VP of VFX Sean Santiago, “the real stars of the show are the folks behind the production design and visual effects," according to a review of the show in Empire, which goes on to say that, “the world of the books has been brought to life and then some.”
Here is some of the VFX magic that will keep you reeling from A Series of Unfortunate Events:
Episodes 1 and 2 – The team at MR. X created a CG top-up and a full CG version of Prufrock Preparatory School and its surrounding dormitories; they also created toddler Sunny’s crazy Vegas card shuffle and the CG crabs she deems “disgusting.”
Episodes 5 and 6 – The middle episodes required the largest volume of VFX shots: CG top-ups and full CG build and digital matte paintings for the Vile Village set and surrounding desert wasteland, a CG Hinterland. “The biggest challenge here was getting the skies right for Barry’s vision,” said James Cooper, Visual Effects Supervisor for MR. X. “In addition, we created CG crows in murmurations and hero performances and a CG hot air balloon. We also did a full CG takeover for the dramatic finale – the final shot of episode 6 where Sunny drives the firetruck off into the sunset.”
Episode 10 – MR. X created the CG/DMP mountain road environment that Count Olaf and troupe drive up before cutting loose the Caravan containing the hapless Baudelaires, sending them towards cliff edge and potential demise. But it was another scene where the craft of VFX really caught attention – when Olaf threatens to feed the Baudelaire children to the lions, which were fully created in CG by MR. X. This sequence apparently had PETA calling the production wondering why they had no representative on set. “We take that as a great compliment,” exclaimed Cooper.
Take a behind-the-scenes look at A Series of Unfortunate Events now streaming Season 2 on Netflix.