In London, Framestore was involved from the very beginning, delivering over 360 shots. We originally started with postviz/concept design work to establish a very early look of a new character, ‘The Entity.’ We took the rough concepts and engaged in further CG development in Houdini for a number of months, before rolling into shot execution work.

Led by Framestore VFX Supervisor Owen Braekke-Carroll, bringing The Entity to life was one of the standout challenges of the project. “The Entity needed to emote and hit the main story beats despite being an unfixed, liquid-like luminous mass, with no face or body per se. We had to rely on all aspects of colour, texture and mass to convey emotion and feeling through such abstracted shapes, in order to tell Mitsuki’s story” Owen says.

“This single Entity needed to progress and change the way it interacted and looked over the course of nearly 300 shots. This meant that the lookdev and progression was ongoing throughout the season and required a strong link between the FX and compositing teams until the final pixel” he adds.

Driven primarily by FX, each layer of The Entity was a complex simulation that interacted with the other components. Instead of a conventional muscle and rig system, animators and FX artists had to adapt to a different way of working. The Entity had a complex internal structure instead of a skeleton/muscle system - capped off by an articulated and animated brain array. Over this surface flowed several combinations of liquid- like simulations and skin, procedurally generated evolving light structures, and flowing surface textures. Each layer was never idle - instead they were all linked to the emotional and narrative state of the entity in the scene.

“Due to the volume of shots this could not be undertaken as a series of bespoke setups” explains Owen. “Instead, FX Supervisor Zybrand Jacobs was able to devise a series of interconnected FX simulations and systems that covered a huge variety of states and uses - an incredible feat to manage. This enables us to drive most shots and scenes from the same base line before expanding into more specific and complicated setups”.

In addition to The Entity, the London team also developed photreal digi-doubles of main characters Misuki, Nikhil, Trevante and a young Hinata. Environment work included a fully digital set replacement of the Alien Entity enclosure and surrounding mothership, and a variety of FX driven portals and other Alien constructions all built from the Entity base.

Over in New York, the Framestore team led by VFX Supervisor Thomas Montminy Brodeur, delivered a Chunnel extension on multiple sequences using a combination of old and new approaches. This involved creating DMP that were projected on 3D basic environments for over 110 shots, rather than opting for full 3d environments. 

The bioluminescent jungle sequence in episode 9 was the ultimate test for this hybrid methodology.

The team created DMP for hundreds of leaves for over 35 shots, which needed to be projected and animated on a host of manually placed elements, mixed with laborious camera movements.

Thomas explains, “The technique of combining 2D and DMP elements mixed with the use of camera creation and Lidar on those heavy camera movement shots was in theory more complicated, but much kinder to budgets keeping a large flexibility for creativity. Using this way of working for the Chunnel and for the Jungle sequences allowed us to skip any 3D/Lighting renders and be able to composite with a good result faster”. He adds, “we pushed the limit of this methodology, and as Erik Henry (Overall VFX Supervisor) told us on our last day, we believe the result that we got on that jungle sequence is the best creative look we could get.”

“The teams at Framestore helped us deliver on two of the most demanding sequences in the season. First, the NYC team set up the glowing forest sequence in a way that we could iterate right up to the final day of delivery and this made us heroes with the show's creator.  Can’t thank VFX supervisor Thomas enough for having the foresight to manage that so efficiently. 

Second, the London team, led by VFX supervisor Owen, delivered a beautifully expressive Entity alien that we found the audience loved as much as we did. Despite the tough task of creating a character that had no mouth or eyes to emote with, Owen and team were responsible for some of the most emotionally impactful moments in this season of Invasion.”

- Erik Henry, VFX Supervisor 


Invasion Season 2 is streaming on Apple TV+.

  • Nominated

    Outstanding Effects Simulations in an Episode, Commercial, Game Cinematic or Real-Time Project at the 22nd Visual Effects Society Awards