Rodeo FX delivered 126 visual effects shots for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, including many featured creatures and their environments, the magical reconstruction of a destroyed room, and MACUSA – the elaborate headquarters of the wizarding world.
Helmed by David Yates, who directed four Harry Potter movies, Fantastic Beasts is a spinoff to the Harry Potter series written by J.K. Rowling. When a wizard, Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), loses his magical suitcase full of enchanted creatures during a visit to New York, he and his new friends must chase them down and try to recapture them.
Assembling a Creature Pipeline
Newt and his friends are able to enter the world of the fantastic beasts through his enchanted suitcase. To build this magical environment, Rodeo FX brought to life a host of beasts, including a Murtlap, a Nundu, Doxies, Butterflies, Gloworms, Grindelows, a family of Diricawls, and adorable Mooncalves.
“Our first significant creature work was done on The Legend of Tarzan. The team did such a great job that Warner Bros. welcomed our bid for Fantastic Beasts,” said Arnaud Brisebois, VFX supervisor at Rodeo FX. “The studio recognized our capabilities and trusted us to successfully deliver on this film.”
Brisebois knew that every creature had to be designed within their unique environment with realistic features that audiences would believe to be true. His team was faced with the challenge of mixing diverse anatomical features and traits to invent creature features never before seen on any real animal.
In the process of crafting these beasts, Rodeo FX relied on the hard work of more than one hundred artists to extend and deepen its creature FX pipeline, including building many proprietary solutions.
“Building these creatures allowed us to define a new set of tools and a unique creature FX workflow,” said Sébastien Moreau, president of Rodeo FX. “This project allowed us to expand our creature capability and we’re thrilled to be able to offer that on future projects.”
Reconstruction of Jacob’s apartment
After the beasts escape from Newt’s suitcase, they destroy Jacob’s (Dan Fogler) apartment. Newt rebuilds the room using magic, which challenged Rodeo FX to simulate the reconstruction with more digital wizardry of its own. Starting with an environment full of debris, dust, and flying rubble, the artists had to revert the action by pulling the pieces back together. Rather than simply reversing the simulated destruction, they recreated each broken asset individually, defining its trajectory and velocity as the room is reassembled so that it looks like magic at work.
“It was a pleasure to work with Arnaud and the talented team at Rodeo FX on Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” said Christian Manz, production VFX supervisor. “Their contribution to the Newt’s Case sequence was truly beautiful and the extensions to MACUSA seamless. I look forward to working with everybody again. Well done!”