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WATCH: MOJO FX Breakdown Reel and Images from ‘Rise of Empires: Ottoman’

Led by VFX supervisor Serkan Semiz, Turkish studio delivered over 600 shots, including nearly 150 in full CG, on Karga Seven’s six-episode docu-drama released worldwide on Netflix.

MOJO FX has just shared with AWN a great breakdown reel and images showcasing their VFX work on Netflix’s popular six-episode docu-drama, Rise of Empires: Ottoman, which premiered worldwide this past January on the streaming giant.

Directed by Emre Sahin and produced by Karga Seven in association with STX Entertainment, the mini-series stars renowned Turkish actors Cem Yiğit Üzümoğlu, Selim Bayraktar, Birkan Sokullu, Osman Sonant, and Tuba Büyüküstün; it also features critically acclaimed historians Prof. Dr. A.M Celal Şengör and Dr. Emrah Safa Gürkan.

Led by VFX supervisor Serkan Semiz, Turkish studio MOJO FX handled all the show’s visual effects, delivering more than 600 shots across all six episodes. “Nearly 150 of our shots were completely CG; the majority of the work involved shots with almost 50% CG,” Semiz shares. “The effects included blood in battles, flying arrows, explosions, sea and land battles, digital matte paintings, set extensions and a set of large sailing ships. All sorts of VFX!”

In one of their biggest sets, the VFX team built a fully digital city of Constantinople; the Byzantine Empire’s capital city was conquered by the Ottoman army in 1453. They also modeled the famous Hagia Sofia, a former Greek Orthodox cathedral that became an Ottoman imperial mosque and today is one of Turkey’s most famous landmarks. Now a museum, it was once the world’s largest building; its massive dome was, and remains, an engineering marvel.

Another major sequence involved a fully CG sea battle depicting 30 Ottoman ships attacking three Genoese galleons. “As you watch the reel,” Semiz says, “note the variety and degree of detail within the work, including water simulations and soldiers on the ships.”

The MOJO team also designed and produced a huge, fully CG battle between two armies. According to the VFX supervisor, “For our crowd simulations, we modeled the soldiers through a full-body scan process and captured them with 360-degree photogrammetry and motion capture cycles.”

“As you can see in the pictures below, Byzantines had chained the entrance of the Golden Horn,” Semiz continues. “Since Sultan Fatih's navy was chained, he decided to carry the ships. Shooting that scene was very expensive, so, we went full CG where the ships moved from land into the Golden Horn.”

As is the standard chant in the VFX business, there is never enough time or money. For MOJO, this project was no exception. “The biggest challenge for us was we did not have enough preparation time,” Semiz adds. “We got involved in the project after about 40% of it was already shot. We delivered over 600 shots with a month and a half preparation and four months production time. Thankfully, we have had many experiences in Turkey delivering hundreds of shots in a very short time.”

Dan Sarto's picture

Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.