BlueBolt is delighted to announce their involvement for the new Drama Republic supernatural crime series, The Irregulars, streaming on Netflix from March 26.
Starring the wonderful Thaddea Graham and Darci Shaw, The Irregulars is an eight episode drama series set in Victorian London following a gang of delinquent teens who are manipulated into solving crimes for the sinister Doctor Watson and his mysterious business partner, Sherlock Holmes.
The BlueBolt team, led by VFX Supervisor Kyle Goodsell and VFX Producer Sam Dubery, provided 245 shots the series, most of which included the large-scale period London cityscapes and extensions as well as creating environments for the Steamboat and a battered Aldgate Underground.
“An area where BlueBolt excels throughout the series, and one that formed the majority of our award, we wanted these environments to be our best to date,” revealed the VFX Supervisor Kyle Goodsell, on his first full show at BlueBolt.
The most important sequence for the project was at the start of the first episode, opening with Bea (Thaddea Graham) walking by the Duck & Quiver Pub. “This sequence, which was also one of our largest on the project, was key as we wanted to create a spectacle early on to sell this environment to the audience and draw them into the world of the story,” explained Goodsell. “It provides a first look at our Baker Street location and an unknown watcher. The camera soon pulls up to reveal the city of London, the first look at our full CG cityscape environment.”
Overall VFX Supervisor, Richard Briscoe explains how BlueBolt’s cityscapes were crucial to narrative. “The scope and detail of BlueBolt’s cityscapes were essential for context, allowing wider views of the sprawling period London, essential to the story and characters.
We needed to help embed the main characters, not only in their rather crowded, narrow ‘home’ backstreets environments, closing them in, but also give a real sense of a wider, different London (just) beyond, with all the different types of streets and buildings and hence strata of society, that they travel through and amongst throughout the series; from the Palace, to Theatreland, to the Thames Docks, to the Potteries and of course, Baker St.
Any viewer re-viewing or pausing some of the shots on revisiting the season, will I think delight in all the little details and touches they built into our London that were perhaps not noticed first time.
Briscoe went on to say, “BlueBolt created beautifully achieved shots; with just the right balance of taking some historical liberties for aesthetics and following the show’s design motifs, while keeping textures, weathering, overall feel and especially lighting, very naturalistic and suitably gritty and seamless blends from set or location to full CG; from the most overt high wides to subtle glimpses.”
Initially, BlueBolt were the vendor onboard for any environment work, but as the series progressed, Briscoe, assigned new work to the team, such as creating a chimney smashing using FX and an anamorphic lens treatment, to go hand in hand with their theatre environment in a flashback sequence.
Being involved in different styles of sequences throughout the show, from plate integration to structural layouts, “came with its own challenge,” revealed VFX Producer Sam Dubery. “ But Kyle’s creative drive often met Richard [Briscoe] and the Directors (Weronika Tofilska, Johnny Kenton and Joss Agnew’s) brief early on and brought the team to produce some incredibly high-quality work, both creatively and technically.”
On the experience as a whole, as well as the overall result, Briscoe was impressed with ‘creative collaboration’ or working with BlueBolt, he commented: “ I could trust the BlueBolt team to largely run with it creatively, once we’d established story requirements to encompass, the final polish to key shots was always addressed with reassuring enthusiasm and dedication from them, with lots of laughs and good humour throughout. No mean feat as it was almost all done, entirely remotely, during lockdown – and on tight deadlines.
Kyle, Sam and team made the process of designing and layout of the various cityscape vistas a fluid, easy process and brought many great ideas to the table, both creatively and from their own research. While the team as a whole delivered beautiful finished work – well beyond I think, the initial expectations of directors and producers.”
The BlueBolt Post team was made of 32 exceptional artists working at different stages throughout the project. Simon Rowe and Joe Courtis as 2D Leads, and Nic Birmingham managing the 3D team and their workflow. Fran Saa (3D) and Tamara Toppler (DMP) were also pivotal in establishing environments throughout the show, from initial layout to the final artistic touches.
Filming for The Irregulars started in September 2019 and wrapped after exactly a year due to the pandemic slowdown. The final shot was delivered at the end of January 2021.
The majority of filming took place in Liverpool, including St George’s Plateau. The palm house was shot in Sefton Park and Falkner Street in the Georgian Quarter. There were other locations in Manchester, Sheffield and Stoke-On-Trent.
From August 2019, the BlueBolt team began asset work on the London build, which quickly developed into Previz for the opening aerial shot of the city, that in turn drove specific plates shot at Wentworth which hosted The Duck & Quiver pub, seen throughout the series and often the foreground feature to their Baker street and London cityscape additions.
The main compositing tool used on the show was Nuke, with Maya and Houdini supporting the 3D Pipeline.
Almost all the Post for this show was produced through the pandemic. “This was probably the biggest challenge the team had faced,” concluded Dubery. “The team needed to adapt working from home and the trials that came with it – from being at the mercy of home broadband speeds and working in your living room, to childcare and timing your weekly food shop to avoid the crowds! No doubt a vast amount of tea and coffee were consumed in the making of this show!”