<I>1899</I>: Dneg provides VFX for Netflix's eight-episode drama
December 20, 2022

1899: Dneg provides VFX for Netflix's eight-episode drama

Netflix’s 1899 is set on a migrant steamship, which is heading west, loaded with a mix of European passengers optimistic about their future abroad. Their journey, however, takes an unexpected turn when they discover another migrant ship adrift at sea. What they find on board turns their passage to the new world into a horrifying nightmare.

Dneg provided visual effects for the eight-episode dramatic series, which was shot in Berlin, London and Scotland. The show stars Emily Beecham, Aneurin Barnard, Andreas Pietschmann, Miguel Bernardeau, Maciej Musial, Lucas Lynggaard Tønnesen, Rosalie Craig, Clara Rosager, Maria Erwolter, Yann Gael, Mathilde Ollivier, José Pimentão, Isabella Wei, Gabby Wong, Jonas Bloquet, Fflyn Edwards, Alexandre Willaume and Anton Lesser, among others.

Dneg VFX supervisor Chris Nokes recently answered a few questions for Post about the studio’s contributions.

Chris, what were the VFX needs for 1899?
“1899 had ambitious goals and big sequences. We were contacted by the production company, Dark Ways, in post production, who were looking for some help on the project. We were brought in to take some of the load and ensure the whole series was delivered smoothly.
“This is a show where the story is front and center. Everything is about the story and the actors' performances, and the VFX work had to support that. There are so many odd situations that the characters find themselves in throughout the show. The VFX {were] very involved and visible in these sequences, so it was important that the work supported the mood and atmosphere of the scenes. It made for some interesting challenges and discussions around whether each scene needed to be photoreal or surreal, or if it needed to shift between the two.”

How many shots across the series was the studio responsible for?
“Dneg was responsible for 389 shots across eight episodes in the series. We worked on several key sequences, including multiple Rose Chafer bug sequences, the Wheelhouse storm, the bullet freeze, Eyks’ house on fire and Nina on fire, and the fog. Plus many more!”

What tools were you relying on for visual effects work?
“We used a variety of tools and software, the main ones being Autodesk Maya, Houdini, Nuke and Clarisse.”

I understand that Dneg worked across the series, but was there a specific shot or scene that was particularly challenging?
“The fog shot, where Ling Yi is enveloped, was a tricky one. It is head-on – white on white on white. Balancing that out was challenging. It was very easy to lose elements as they were coming toward the camera. That sequence was a fine balancing act.

"The toughest sequence was probably in Episode 7, ‘The Storm in the Wheelhouse.’ There were ambitious creative goals, continuity over the entire episode, and a lot of logistical constraints. The team and I had to get pretty creative in our problem solving to figure out that balance.
“In order to get the logistics of that working we had to work in parallel across our teams. There were a lot of elements coming together — the outer deck environment, CG windows, a lot of CG rain, bow sprays, mist, along with lightning in the sky. When you see a big sequence like that in pieces, there is always a little bit of doubt until you start to see it all coming together.
“That said, I really like how our wheelhouse storm shots turned out. They really complement the rest of the shots around them. We invested a lot of energy in planning out that sequence, so it's really satisfying to see the teamwork come together.”