Catherine The Great VFX Breakdown

Catherine The Great portrays the reign of the Empress, Catherine II, in what is considered to be the Golden Age of Russia. The 4-part TV series, for HBO and Sky, is directed by Philip Martin, starring Helen Mirren, Jason Clarke, Joseph Quinn, and Paul Kaye.

The VFX requirements for the show focused on multiple boat sequences, which tell the story of Catherine’s journey down the Dnieper river, towards the port of Sevastopol and the Black Sea fleet. BlueBolt recreated Catherine’s flotilla, using a combination of CG assets, background plates, and matte painting to create multiple environments along their route.

The key to the success of these sequences was combining the foreground plates and environment plates using Nuke. Some wonderful work by the location team and a pair of steady hands from our VFX Supervisor meant that we captured some picturesque landscapes in both Sweden and Croatia, that tied in nicely to the blue screen shoot onboard the elaborate set build. To help bring these scenes to life, we added crowds of peasants to the riverbanks, and sailors on the surrounding boats to really capture the scale of this event in history.

During the Siege of Ochakov, BlueBolt used a combination of 2D elements and CG soldiers, as well as large crowds of CG peasants rushing to Catherine to reinforce the narrative of the sheer power and popularity of the Tsarina. Maya, Houdini, and Golaem were all used to create these shots.

The series was filmed in multiple locations across Russia and Lithuania, providing beautiful backdrops to complement the narrative, which we further enhanced to include spectacular landscapes and period cityscape additions, such as St Petersburg, to help bring the clients’ creative vision to life.


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