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Rodeo FX Summons ‘The Witcher’ Season 3 Beasts

Watch the VFX breakdown reels showcasing how the studio delivered 236 shots on 20 sequences, including the creation of the Jackapace and the Pit Monster.

Rodeo FX returned to work more magic on Netflix’s The Witcher Season 3, bringing solid ‘Witcher’ franchise experience to the job, having previously contributed VFX to The Witcher Season 2 as well as its spin-off, The Witcher: Blood Origin. The studio’s dynamic duo, VFX supervisor Sebastien Francoeur and VFX producer Graeme Marshall, helmed the project, delivering 236 shots on 20 sequences with a crew of 503.

Witcher familiarity aside, according to Francoeur and Graeme, each season pushed Rodeo’s team to explore new worlds (and new creatures), as with the Jackapace and the Pit Monster, two very different assets in two completely different scenes, one entirely in the dark and the other under the scorching sun.

According to Francoeur and Marshall, the journey began in the first episode, introducing the season’s newest creature, the Jackapace. Resembling an armored armadillo, the menacing beast “assailed our characters within the heart of a labyrinth during a masquerade celebration, lured by Ciri's elven lineage.”

Crafting the Jackapace posed many challenges. “We had to not only make it walk and run through the maze but also transform into a spherical form and roll,” the pair explained. “This necessitated the creation of a sophisticated network of muscles and interlocking back scales that could move in sync with its actions. Precise timing was imperative to allow for moments like Ciri vaulting over it or Geralt evading its onslaught. Our FX team even conjured powerful gusts of wind to complement Yennefer's magical incantation.”

The Jackapace’s on-screen appearance was brief, lasting less than a minute in the presence of Cavill. However, its creation was not, taking nearly 130 days of work to complete.

In the second part of the season, the Rodeo team weighed in as Ciri embarked on her quest to master her chaotic abilities. Following her initial encounter with fire magic, which involved the creation of CG flames enveloping Freya Allan's character, the team unveiled her new companion, a unicorn.

“Leveraging the performance of a real horse on set added complexity to our work, particularly when Ciri and her steed confronted a colossal Pit Monster,” shared Francoeur and Marshall. “This formidable creature, with elements reminiscent of a scorpion and rocky terrain, proved to be a formidable animation challenge. It necessitated the seamless integration of multiple elements: the CG representation of the monster, Allan's stunts against a blue screen, and footage of the horse and its handler. To further intensify the battle, we introduced swirling clouds of sand and executed an awe-inspiring slow-motion jump, resulting in an epic showdown.”

Rodeo FX shared two breakdown reels – looking at the creation of the Jackapace and the Pit Monster. Check them out.

“The Witcher Season 3 - VFX Breakdown - The Jackapace”

“The Witcher Season 3 - VFX Breakdown - The Pit Monster”

The Witcher is now streaming on Netflix.

Source: Rodeo FX

Debbie Diamond Sarto's picture

Debbie Diamond Sarto is news editor at Animation World Network.