Union VFX - Outlander


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Director | Various

Union VFX Go to Battle on Outlander

The critically acclaimed, Starz original series, Outlander is adapted from Diana Gabaldon’s novels of the same name. Season two rejoins married World War II British Army nurse, Claire Randall who has found herself transported to 1743 as she tries to stop the battle of Culloden with her strapping Scots Warrior husband Jamie.

Union’s 95 shots on Outlander span episodes 8-13 of Season 2 as the Jacobites sneak a victory at the battle of Prestonpans and gather in preparation for Culloden.

Led by visual effects supervisor, Simon Hughes, Union’s creatives were called on to help swell the numbers in the Jacobite camp to thousands of highland warriors by replicating, supplementing and extending live action elements shot with around 100 extras as well as their horses and tents.  They also played a key role in helping to paint an authentic picture of the preamble to the 1745 battle of Culloden. 

This required complex VFX work, involving compositing-plate and tiled elements, augmenting architecture and creating digital matte paintings from period reference provided by production.  They even built a period thatch roof in 3d using Houdini so that it could billow in the wind, really selling the shots. 

With so many shots featuring the camp, the team decided to write tools in Nuke to allow quick population of the scene in 3d space with both camp elements and crowd once the main angles had been established which made for efficient turnarounds. 

Richard Briscoe, visual effects supervisor, said: Outlander is an ambitious, fast-moving production, closely-examined by it’s fans worldwide.  Working with multiple vendors across 13 episodes has been extremely effective, but has it’s creative and logistical challenges.  The team at Union have great experience, professionalism and, one of the most important things to me, a great ‘eye’, inspiring a lot of trust.  They delivered to a very high creative standard for this show, were enormously flexible & helpful and never missed a (sometimes very tight) deadline.

Outlander, Season 2 is produced by Starz and Sony and available now on demand through Amazon Prime.