BBC

Noughts and Crosses

The first season of the drama Noughts and Crosses was filmed in 6 episodes across 2 architecturally distinct continents. The central premise of the story is the re-imagination of current history in which Africans have colonized Europe. From a VFX perspective and through believable visuals, Chocolate Tribe in South Africa (as the main VFX supplier) and Factory Fifteen (the UK based supplier) had to construct a new world, new look, a new feel and tone in which the now dominant African symbols like the “the Spirit of the Cross” tower over the well-known London skyline and the various districts of daily suburbia.

Before the post production began, Factory Fifteen together with executive producer Kibwe Tavares, spent several months conceptualising the world and architectural styles and created a library of buildings which would be used later on in post to populate the city skyline. Chocolate Tribe’s VFX supervisor, Rob van den Bragt, spent a significant amount of the time on-set to ensure all the scenes reflected the visual narrative of the story.

An interesting challenge was that filming took place mainly in South Africa, Cape Town which is markedly different from London in ambience and architecture, but also has the iconic Table Mountain, however does not have the recognisable river Thames. As a result, we created numerous set extensions and enhancements to recreate multiple “Londonesque” landscapes.

The series had around 400 VFX shots. A majority of these shots involved set extensions using 3d city structures and digital matte paintings,

as well as blue/green screen scenes where various rooftop and city views were recreated.

The Chocolate Tribe team enhanced the bomb explosion scene, through adding debris, smoke, fire, building damage and cleaning up the scene. Additional VFX work included 2D crowd duplication, full 3D crowds, screen and sky replacements, and giving intensity to the various action scenes by adding smoke, water, fireworks, blood splatters and weather elements.

The team enjoyed working particularly on the London vista shots, such as the river Thames aerials, where current day London was morphed into the re-imagined Noughts and Crosses world. A world where the tension between the different classes is palpable and resonates strongly in a technical, aesthetic and expressive way.

The core intention of our VFX work was to enhance through distinct visuals the vision of the alternative world in which Noughts are subservient and Crosses are dominant, so through subtle and also obvious city and building enhancements, a new place and state of being is created without question. Colours, facades, spaces and structures played a massive role in achieving the concept.

We worked closely with the directors, producers and production design team to ensure that all aspects of this new narrative world from the minute detail to the glaring, were incorporated naturally and seamlessly.

Production companies: Mammoth Screen, Participant, Roc Nation

Directors: Julian Holmes (3 episodes, 2020), Koby Adom (3 episodes, 2020)
Writers: Malorie Blackman (6 episodes, 2020), Lydia Adetunji (3 episodes, 2020), Nathaniel Price (2 episodes, 2020), Toby Whithouse (2 episodes, 2020), Rachel De-Lahay (1 episode, 2020)
Producer: Johann Knobel
Executive producer: Damien Timmer , Kibwe Tavares, Preethi Mavahalli , Toby Whithouse , Jay-Z, Patrick Reardon , Ben Irving , Miura Kite
Production Executives: Howard Ella, Rudi Van As
Co-producer: Rienkje Attoh
Line producers: Sarah Lewis, Amanda Wasey

DOP: Jamie Ramsay, Giulio Biccari
Production Designer: Shane Bunce
On-Set VFX Supervisor / Visual Effects Supervisor: Rob van den Bragt

Lead Visual Effects House: Chocolate Tribe
Producer: Corlia Ohlson De Fine
Lead Technical Director: Tiaan Franken
Lead Compositor: Jean Du Plessis
Compositing: Johan Wentzel, Jannes Hendriks
3D Artists: Derik van den Berg, Sam Visser, Jay Sheldon
Legal and Business Affairs Manager: Nosipho Maketo-van den Bragt