A Discovery of Witches S.3

In season 3 of A Discovery Of Witches, Matthew and Diana return from their trip to 1590 to find tragedy at Sept-Tours. They must find the missing pages from the Book of Life and the Book itself before it’s too late. We were delighted to re-join the team and work our magic for this final season.
“Collaborating with series VFX Supervisor Neil Riley and the team at Bad Wolf, this season brought us a whole new set of magic spells to visualise, from concepts and storyboards to intricate FX work."
Jonathan Rawlinson
Executive Producer, REALTIME

We couldn’t wait to re-join Bad Wolf for the third season of Sky TV’s A Discovery of Witches, helping to bring to life magic performed by Diana Bishop (Teresa Palmer). Following several sequences crafted for the second season (which was shortlisted for Best Visual Effects at the Broadcast Tech Innovation awards), the team was tasked with creating magical VFX that showcase how much Diana’s powers have developed. 

“Diana’s powers are growing and therefore the magical content increases with each season. That said, the magic must always feel real and grounded to the nature of the show. This season we’re back in the modern era, so the VFX had to feel appropriate to the time and that of a confident, powerful witch.”
Sue Land
VFX Supervisor, REALTIME

Episode four sees Diana visualising an Elizabethan London on top of the modern-day architecture. Using reference of buildings from the UK city of York as inspiration, the team blocked out a model of the lane from matchmoved cameras, using ZBrush to add additional detail and aging to the material. 

Diana then casts a ‘salt spell’ in order to locate the last page from the Book of Life. To visualise the style of the spell, REALTIME’s Art Department developed a series of concepts for the creative team to work from. Red salt acts as a magical GPS, with the grains moving around a map before forming the shape of a house. This effect was created using Houdini, the particle sims focussed on target-seeking behaviour to get the specific shapes needed.  The house was built using a volume-based modelling process. The team rendered it with varying degrees of transparency to achieve the final look. 

"Visual effects are always best when they serve a purpose beyond just looking pretty, and this is particularly true with magical shows. Our sequences had to be handled with subtly when often the temptation is to over embellish the magic and make it twinkle. We generally found ourselves paring back on what we initially thought would sell the shot to better serve the story."
Sue Land
VFX Supervisor, REALTIME