Breakdown interview | Mindhunter Promo sequence

07 Nov 2010 • Design & VFX

Samia Hoque

David Fincher’s acclaimed series charts the development of the FBI’s behavioural unit from t he late 1970’s through too 1980s. Meticulously researched, the series is a seemingly effortless recreation of time and place. Territory ‘s VFX team came on board in post to deliver a series of final shots. The ask included clean-up, CG props, set extensions and environments, and stretched from concept through to final shot.

Meticulous research of microphones, vehicles, landscapes and mid-century urban architecture underpinned the authenticity of our concepts, and we were able to add depth and detail to each shot, beautifully rendered in 6K.

In this series of Q&As with  VFX Supervisor Simon Carr we kick off by talking about the making of the promo shot.

What was the ask?

Our initial initial brief was to look at a promo shot. Set in a police interrogation cell with Ford and Tench sat either side of a table, the camera slowly tracks toward and then through a microphone. Although there was a need to remove camera tracks from the plate, the work that excited us was to provide a full CG microphone.

What made the microphone such an interesting challenge?

Digital props are often over simplified and we felt we could craft a highly detailed virtual mic that could work throughout the shot. Also, the microphone has become so iconic of the series that it’s an exciting object to work with, and delivering to the high standards that director David Fincher is known for felt like an opportunity to demonstrate our VFX capabilities.

How did you go about creating a virtual mic?

We wanted to accurately model the mic used in Series 1, so CG artist  Ashley Pay sourced a version of the microphone and stand used in the series. Once it arrived we took it apart to understand the competent parts and details. We were then able to accurately model and texture it.

How was the shot received?

It was rewarding that our CG mic was so detailed that in the initial presentation the team couldn’t tell the difference between our virtual model and the original prop form Series 1. The level of detail convinced Fincher to give us the mic shot as well, and having the plate we modelled and comped the mic, tracking into it in the closing shot. Rendered out at 3K the promo was subsequently used to promote Series 2 on social platforms.

Having achieved this to the required standard, we were subsequently engaged to work on a few stand-alone shots in the series, ranging from vehicles, through FX to full CG environment builds.

Tech summary 

Maya, Substance Painter, 3DEqualizer, Red Shift, Arnold and Nuke

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