The ABC Murders

John Malkovich takes the lead as renowned detective Hercule Poirot who is taunted by letters from a killer

Project Category

TV

Client

Mammoth Screen

Director

Alex Gabassi

Outpost VFX Producer

Gez Hixson

Outpost VFX Supervisor

Dave Sadler-Coppard

Overview


We were pleased to have completed nearly 200 shots for period drama The ABC Murders with Mammoth Screen.

Starring John Malkovich as retired detective Hercule Poirot in the 1930s, we successfully delivered a whole variety of visual effects including asset builds (which involved creating a hero train asset), CG environments, set extensions, crowd replications, 2D effects as well as digital clean-up for the three-part series.

Outpost VFX supervisor Dave Sadler-Coppard explains how we re-created King’s Cross station, created historically accurate and realistic CG trains, as well as a vast and sprawling train track junction: “We conducted thorough research into 1930s London to ensure our assets were historically accurate, particularly of the trains and stations in use at the time.

“Our trains and carriages were modelled and textured using a mix of on-set photography reference and internet research. All the tracks, junctions and signals were made with set scan photogrammetry along with additional photographic references. A lot of the environments were inspired by period photographs and drawings of 1930s London.”

Our trains and carriages were modelled and textured using a mix of on-set photography reference and research. All the tracks, junctions and signals were made with set scan photogrammetry.

A key shot establishing the series involves a sweeping opening camera move that takes the viewer from the clock down to the platform – all of which was done entirely in CG. Dave reveals that director Alex Gabassi had an original, key photograph for us to use as inspiration for how to frame the shot.

“This helped us design the elements specifically for the camera move and saved a lot of time,” Dave explains.

“The shot was originally supposed to be a lock-off but Alex pushed for a sweeping camera move from a clock face to the platform. This added a lot of complexity but ultimately made the shot much more interesting and fit better in the episode context.

The Independent was impressed by some of these shots, giving special praise in their four-star review: "The series is carefully made, with some especially nice shots of old railway station."

Additionally, we completed work on removing modern features such as cars, signs, wires, aerials and other modern features to ensure that the viewer would be seamlessly immersed in the 1930s era.

ABC Murders aired over Christmas 2018 on BBC. Check out one of the rave reviews here.

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Outpost VFX Crew

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