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MPC Shares ‘Halo’ Season 2 VFX Breakdown Reel, Concept Art

The company delivered 97 shots for the popular action-adventure sci-fi series’ second season, including futuristic set extensions, full CG city environments, hologram inserts, and destruction FX simulations for battle scenes, vehicles, and crowds.

With stunning visual impact, the action-adventure sci-fi series Halo Season 2 launched on Paramount+ in February with a bit of help from the MPC VFX team. Working closely with production VFX supervisor Wojciech Zielinski and VFX producer Mike May, the MPC team provided a futuristic set extension, full CG city environments, hologram inserts, destruction FX simulations for battle scenes, vehicles, and crowds – all in within 97 shots delivered across the second season.

VFX supervisor Kedar Manapragada and VFX producer Nick Colangelo led MPC’s creative team along with DFX supervisor Artem Sukach, animation director Tom Nagy, CG supervisor James Reid, and production managers Paula Barragan Naranjo and Huong Vu.

In 2022, Zielinski enlisted MPC to guide the collection of motion capture data for the show’s fight sequences. In addition, Zielinski and May reached out to MPC’s LA-based Art Department to design new key characters for the second season, including Sangheili warriors, Arbiter Var ‘Gatanai, the Covenant priest Uto 'Mdama, and a new version of Cortana’s hologram effects.

Check out the VFX breakdown reel, then learn how some of the work was produced:

Another notable contribution by the MPC team is the design of the parasitic Flood and its different stages of development. MPC’s Art Department also provided concepts for environments, including Reach City, Visegrad Relay, the attack on Reach City, the Bridge Battle, the Halo ring itself, props, creatures, and the destructive glassing effect of Covenant plasma bombardment.

MPC art director Leandre Lagrange noted, “A great deal of work went into pushing the environment concepts in accuracy, integrating the designs overshot plates to create a blueprint for the VFX teams."

In Season 2 Episode One, visual effects took center stage during the medal ceremony held in the Fleetcom hangar. With a significant portion of the photography shot against a bluescreen, the screen space required replacement with extensive visual effects. MPC's environment team crafted hangar bay set extensions and played a pivotal role in creating monitor holograms for the futuristic displays that broadcast the ceremony, adding a layer of innovation to the visual narrative.

The Bridge Battle sequence in Episode 4 presented MPC artists with a significant challenge; it depicted Reach City engulfed in flames following a massive battle. MPC's assets, DMP, and FX simulation artists embarked on the task of demolishing city buildings, incorporating smoke, and portraying plasma fire raining from the sky. An in-house tool was developed in Houdini, making it possible to create thousands of lights across the CG city. To achieve continuity in fire and smoke, the team created long simulations and adjusted the frame range on a per-shot basis. MPC’s compositing team helped develop the look of the battle environment along with creating plasma splash effects and UNSC weapon muzzle flashes. Modeling artists built a new high-fidelity Scorpion tank 3D model, while MPC’s animation team crafted a Sangheili horde using motion capture performances polished through keyframe animation techniques.

Episode 8 spotlights the intense final fight sequence featuring Master Chief and the Arbiter. Both characters engage in a gripping hand-to-hand sword fight, facing each other in a battle for survival. The pivotal moment came to life, beginning with showrunners providing CG models of the Arbiter and Master Chief, followed by MPC’s character team’s enhancements and the introduction of battle damage, blood, and gore. The result illustrated the intensifying evolving nature of the fight.

MPC’s animation artists began blocking out the essential beats using mocap data, then refined the animation and facial performance for key dialogue moments, capturing the emotion and realism of the characters. FX artists crafted dynamic simulations, including the dramatic shattering of the Master Chief’s energy sword and cascading plasma, as well as adding blood effects for the Arbiter's gore. TechAnim artists seamlessly integrated VFX elements to fine-tune armor details. Additionally, skin simulation was applied for the final touches, enhancing the characters’ overall authenticity.

Source: MPC VFX

Debbie Diamond Sarto's picture

Debbie Diamond Sarto is news editor at Animation World Network.