Twin Pines recreates a spectacular naval battle for ‘La Fortuna’

Twin Pines, the Madrid-based digital post-production company, handled the visual effects of The wealth, the new Movistar+ series directed by Alejandro Amenábar. This international production was an exciting challenge for the studio: In total, the series contains around 1,000 digitally retouched shots, which required a year of work to recreate underwater scenes, an epic naval battle and a road trip to the United States. United, among many other sequences.

1804 Sea Sequence, Front (Twin Pines)

Produced in association with AMC Studios and in collaboration with Mod Pictures (Spain), the drama unfolds as American treasure hunter Frank Wild (Stanley Tucci) locates the wreckage of The wealth, a frigate sunk off the Atlantic coast of Spain in 1804 – the resting site of history’s greatest sunken treasure. When Wild returns the loot to Atlanta, young diplomat Alex Ventura (Álvaro Mel) is enlisted to lead an international legal battle for Spain to regain the historic treasure, with the help of seasoned maritime lawyer Jonas Pierce (Clarke Peters ).

Having already worked with Amenábar on the film In times of war, for which Twin Pines was nominated for a Goya Award for Best Special Effects, the director and studio have teamed up again to adapt the graphic novel The Black Swan’s Treasure by Paco Roca and Guillermo Corral for television. The story of this passionate journey through time and its many different scenarios presented a number of unique challenges.

CGI ROV submarine in La Fortuna

CGI ROV submarine in La Fortuna

“Without a doubt, the underwater sequences were the most complex, because we had to create them entirely by computer or what we call full CG,” say Twin Pines directors Juanma Nogales and Ana Rubio. “We normally incorporated our effects into the look designed during filming, but in these sequences there were no existing sequences, so we had to create everything from scratch: the art, the environment, the lighting and physics simulations, based on the storyboard and director’s instructions.

As one of the main narrative elements of The wealth, the underwater world had to be both realistic and cinematic. To this end, Twin Pines created a series of 3D elements including sand, plants, coral, rocks, ships and cannons, which were then computer aged to a convincing effect. Additionally, they also had to create two looks: one for shots from outside a remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) and one from inside the ROV, which would be seen on the ships’ screens. Americans and Spaniards.

ROV Underwater Sequence, Front (Twin Pines)

ROV Underwater Sequence, Front (Twin Pines)

Similarly, the impressive naval battle that took place over the course of the series posed one of the biggest technical challenges for Twin Pines. In this key sequence of the series, the visual effects were absolutely crucial: explosions, cannon fire, gunfire, sinking ships and a combination of real and 3D-generated ships were all part of the meticulous and painstaking effects work. specials.

“We approached all the 3D elements based on the previews we did with Alejandro and worked until the last second to improve those plans, creating dozens of versions of each piece and working on different phases. . This involved the largest deployment of resources we have ever undertaken so far,” explained Nogales and Rubio.

La Fortuna, 1804 ships at sea.

La Fortuna, 1804 ships at sea.

This particular sequence required countless hours of simulations, rendering machines, motion capture technology, scanning of ships, locations and characters, as well as animatics and chromas. “The Battleship was the first thing we started and the last thing we finished, but it was also the most satisfying sequence for Twin Pines as a VFX studio,” they added.

The simulation of a complete sequence of an automobile journey on American roads was another of the great challenges of The wealth. Footage of Spanish roads was used for the exteriors and on-set chroma recording for the interiors. The 3D composition included the creation of the road signs and the different landscape elements like bridges, buildings, speed barriers and cars moving in both directions.

1804 Ships at sea, before (Twin Pines)

1804 Ships at sea, before (Twin Pines)

Due to the complexity of the project, especially in the historical period scenes, the plan was to start in the summer of 2019 with the prior scanning of the real ships that were to be used for filming. Then comes the preview of the sequences with the scanned material and a study of the possible camera angles with Amenábar.

The end result was approximately 1,000 VFX shots across the entire series for which the most advanced software in the industry was used: Nuke for compositing, Houdini for simulations, Maya and Clarisse for 3D scenes and Arnold for rendering. In addition, the working method of Twin Pines always involves the development of specific tools by its team of engineers with the aim of optimizing the results and adapting to the needs and requirements of each client.

LA FORTUNA_REEL_TWINPINES by Twin Pines VFX on Vimeo.

This project has come at one of the best times for Twin Pines, following the expansion of its headquarters with a major overhaul of its technology infrastructure and the recruitment of new creative talent, not to mention recently winning a Goya award. of the best special effects for his work in Akelarre by Pablo Aguero.

“From a visual effects perspective, being able to bring to life the complicated scenes that The wealth was an amazing experience. We have successfully taken on challenges that were at the level of the biggest studios in the world in a project with high international visibility,” concluded Rubio and Nogales.

The wealth premiered as the only drama series selected for the San Sebastian Film Festival in September before airing on Movistar+ (Spain) and Sky (Germany). The series will arrive on AMC+ in the US on January 20, after rolling out in Latin America and the UK

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