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Union Shares ‘The Banshees of Inisherin’ VFX Breakdown Reel

‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ writer/director Martin McDonagh taps the studio as sole visual effects vendor on his award-winning film starring Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson; the invisible VFX included creating 1920s environment digital matte paintings and various CG objects and elements.

Union VFX provided visual effects for writer/ director Martin McDonagh’s award-winning film, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, so it was no surprise he chose the studio to serve as sole VFX vendor on his latest film, The Banshees of Inisherin. Starring Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, the movie tells a melancholy tale that balances both tragedy and comedy, set in the remotest of 1920s Ireland. 

The Banshees of Inisherin was nominated for nine Academy Awards and won four BAFTAs, including Outstanding British Film and Original Screenplay. In addition, it was awarded three Golden Globes for Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Screenplay, premiered at TIFF, and was selected for the BFI London Film Festival. It also reunited Farrell and Gleeson, the stars of McDonagh’s 2008 debut feature In Bruges.

The studio’s VFX supervisor Simon Hughes collaborated closely with McDonagh; Union came on board early and was on set for the shoot in Ireland during the pandemic.

The movie follows two men who’ve been friends for years and are going through a crisis that results in missing fingers - this, along with 1920s digital matte painting environment work, CG objects, and elements, required the Union team to create technically challenging and complex VFX.

Hughes explained that the team had their work cut out with the missing finger VFX. “The biggest challenge was creating CG stumps of Brendan Gleeson’s fingers alongside the intricate movement and animation required. We had to make a CG version of the hand and work on the many complex hand movements involved to make it look realistic.”

Other visual effects included CG fire, an impressive lightning storm, a CG church bell, and the period matte painting that establishes the remote landscape in the film's opening scene.

Hughes added, “The show doubled in size from our original award and had a very tight turnaround time, but working with a seasoned director like Martin, who we already had such a great relationship with, meant it was a total pleasure from beginning to end. The VFX are invisible, as they should be, and the film itself is a masterpiece.”

McDonagh commented, “I've worked with Union on two films now, Three Billboards and The Banshees of Inisherin, and have always found them to be brilliantly artistic collaborators and a lot of fun!”

Blueprint Pictures produced The Banshees of Inisherin for Searchlight and Film 4.

Check out the VFX breakdown reel:

Source: Union VFX

Debbie Diamond Sarto's picture

Debbie Diamond Sarto is news editor at Animation World Network.