Absolute Breaks Down VFX Behind Period Drama ‘The Buccaneers’

‘The Buccaneers’ galloped onto our screens in November 2023, bringing with it flutes full of upheaval, castle loads of debauchery, and a whole lotta visual effects from Absolute’s film & TV department. Set in the 1870s and centered around a group of young American woman sent to London to secure statuses and husbands, Absolute VFX team completed 162 shots across four episodes of the eight-part drama.

Set in a gorgeous nineteenth century baronial castle in the Scottish Highlands, episode six was set at Christmas but shot in the milder month of October. A close collaboration between 3D and 2D disciplines was deployed to transform 87 autumnal shots into extensive CG snowy forests, matte-painted landscapes and snowy rooftops. Various factors, including the time of day, drone shots and multiple camera angles added complexity to the task.

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“Our strategy involved establishing a ‘hero’ look for each scene and replicating it throughout the entire sequence”, says Carl Godwin-Alvarez, VFX Supervisor. “Achieving this required careful consideration of the approach for each scene and the development of bespoke solutions that could be applied across the entire sequence to maintain consistency.”

Another location, The Duke of Tintagel’s residence, was concepted early in the project and relied on the amalgamation of period specific features found at Culzean and Drumlanrig castles. Working with  DMP Artist, Neil Miller, Absolute created a variety of concepts and supplied drone shots with DMP elements to get layout approval for this fictional setting.  Set extensions, particle simulations, window replacements, period cleanup, beauty work and simulated travel were other elements tackled by the VFX studio.

The team collaborated with VFX production supervisor, Jimmy Knowles on the project, with whom they had previously worked on Prime Video UK’s ‘The Rig’. “Jimmy got in touch waaay back in August 2022, saying that he had no doubt our team could ‘knock it out the park’ following our previous collab, which is always brilliant to hear”, says Danny Duke, Absolute’s Head of Film & TV. “‘The Buccaneers’ was an incredible feat for our team, with some of the most complex and seamless work we’ve done to date. We’re excited to see that it’s being renewed for season 2. Bring it on, or should I say: lock up your lords!”

The full season 1 of ‘The Buccaneers’ is available to stream now.

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