The Last Kingdom 4 (2020)

February 09, 2021


The Last Kingdom has certainly grown in scope for this latest season.
The environments are larger and more of a focus than before, and the battles are bigger and bloodier.

A lot of the heavier VFX work was in our large establishers of cities and Fortresses – especially for Winchester and Aegelsburg (Ayelsbury), which had multiple drone shots revealing the entire city – something that we hadn’t seen before.

To create these cities, it was a joint effort between our 3d and environments team

The other main area of the VFX is the battles and the gore. In all, there were 4 main battles across the series, with many other skirmishes in between. The largest was the battle in Ep4 with 5 different armies involved – 2000-2500 soldiers in all – meaning some hefty use of our CG soldiers, mixed together with elements filmed on location.
Each battle was styled in a different way, so they all really stood out.
Overall in the show, there were at least 194 shots for blood / gore addition, so we were running a bit of an internal “kill count” competition between artists. We are pleased to say that Katherine Sykes won with the barest of margins.

In order to create a lot the heavy gore, our onset supervisor Matt Badham was constantly coming up with new ways to destroy a watermelon filled with “guts” and “blood”

There were multiple sequences filmed at a water tank in Fót at the Mafilm Studios (also used in Blade Runner 2049), which also housed the large scale Bebbanburg sea gate set.
This water tank was used for boats arriving at the seagate, as well as open ocean sailing, requiring VFX to layer background plates that were shot off the English coast.
This is another evolution of the complexity of the water work on the show. Previous seasons this sort of sequence has been filmed on dry land or on a gimbal.

Aside from the increased scope from the previous three series, the team returned to Bebbanburg which provided another challenge.
The location is meant to be along the English coast, and we had characters arriving from beaches and by boat into a seagate, but our set was located in landlocked Hungary. So we had to combine various locations and create a fully CG environment for the final drone shot of the Fortress.
We filmed on location on Northumbrian beaches as well as off the coast in order to film sea plates, at a seagate set build in Fót, and two separate fort set builds at Göböljárás. All of which had to be stitched together to be one location.
e.g. The Scottish raid of Bebbanburg had hard cuts from a beach in England to a field in Hungary – filmed weeks apart.

The Ep 4 Battle of Tettenhall was the largest battle on the show – 5 different armies, making up to 2500 soldiers in total – all a mixture of 2d and 3d elements.
The opening of the battle involves a hidden trench which the Dane army, on horseback, fall into and lose their advantage.
This was mainly done through 2d elements, with CG foliage breaking under impact. There was a whole shoot day dedicated to filming our VFX elements for this sequence, which needed to be done in a way that was completely safe for all the horses and stunt team.

You can click here or on any of the images to see BlueBolt’s VFX breakdown video for the show.

Tags: Compositing VFX Supervisor

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