union helped bring the FX Networks drama, Trust, to life for audiences around the world. Inspired by actual events, Trust looks at one of America’s most infamous families, the Gettys. In the UK, Trust aired on BBC Two.
Led by VFX Supervisor Adam Gascoyne, the Union team used a combination of digital environments, atmospherics, modern-day cleanup, and fx simulations for the first season of the hit television series. “It was a huge privilege to work with the immensely talented crew involved in Trust and to get to spend so much time in the beautifully inspirational city of Rome. We were tasked with some really interesting challenges which we worked through with the whole production team and we’re really happy with the results,” said Gascoyne.
Union’s work is showcased in the opening scene of the pilot. With the famous Hollywood Hills framing the background, the visually stunning series opens with a camera move that takes audiences from a matte painting into a swimming pool and through a group of party revelers before landing on George Getty as he gruesomely takes his life with a BBQ fork. The team disguised the mechanism in the prop retractable BBQ fork, made to look more solid, and added the puncture wound.
In another memorable scene in which J. Paul Getty Sr. takes his grandson to one of his oil rigs, the helicopter was shot against a green screen, and Union replaced the backgrounds and added all of the oil rigs. The scenes on the rig itself were shot on a training platform near Aberdeen and placed into the middle of the North Sea using digital matte painted environments.
During a party scene, J. Paul Getty Sr. announces a new addition to his household – Theresa, an African lioness. Theresa was filmed at Amazing Animals in Chipping Norton against a green screen and then seamlessly placed into a digital environment of the Getty mansion.
Union was also tasked with creating a visual representation of J. Paul Getty Sr.’s world falling apart in the finale episode, “Consequences.” J. Paul Getty Sr. picks up a few grapes that turn into gold in his hand before reaching out for another piece of fruit which triggers the entire fruit bowl and a goblet to turn to gold. The camera cuts to the ornate ceiling as it begins to ooze liquid gold and pour down the walls just as the camera turns 180-degrees. Gascoyne explains, “This was a tricky sequence because we had to follow the camera as it moved through its 180-degree arch. The center of gravity is constantly changing during this sequence making our VFX work extremely challenging.” The complex simulations required an aggregation solver to predefine the advancement of the liquid gold into the environment. A Houdini FLIP (fluid implicit particle) simulation was then created to mimic the flow of gold across the surfaces of the room. The style and viscosity of the gold and all the visual effects were created in Houdini. The scene also required the modeling of grapes, photo frames, and a goblet within the room – all of which are consumed by the gold.
Equal parts family history, dynastic saga, and examination of the corrosive power of money, Trust, is a story that attempts to unlock the mystery at the heart of every family, rich or poor. The show stars Donald Sutherland, Hilary Swank, Harris Dickinson, Michael Esper, Brendan Fraser, Anna Chancellor, and Charlotte Riley.