Invasion Season 2 Shioli closing her eyes

Invasion Season 2

Invasion, the action-packed series returns for Season 2 as Earth is visited by an alien species that threatens humanity’s existence. Events unfold in real time through the eyes of five ordinary people across the globe as they struggle to make sense of the chaos unraveling around them. Employing the creative prowess of our teams in London and New York, Framestore was tasked with delivering concept art and VFX across multiple episodes.

Effects Simulation
Creature Design/Art Department
The Entity pink in color, Shioli standing in front of it

In London, Framestore was involved from the very beginning, delivering over 360 shots. We originally started with postviz/concept design work to establish a very early look of a new character, ‘The Entity.’ We took the rough concepts and engaged in further CG development in Houdini for a number of months, before rolling into shot execution work.

Led by Framestore VFX Supervisor Owen Braekke-Carroll, bringing The Entity to life was one of the standout challenges of the project. “The Entity needed to emote and hit the main story beats despite being an unfixed, liquid-like luminous mass, with no face or body per se. We had to rely on all aspects of colour, texture and mass to convey emotion and feeling through such abstracted shapes, in order to tell Mitsuki’s story” Owen says.

Shioli looking through The Entity
Shioli touching The Entity

“This single Entity needed to progress and change the way it interacted and looked over the course of nearly 300 shots. This meant that the lookdev and progression was ongoing throughout the season and required a strong link between the FX and compositing teams until the final pixel” he adds.

Driven primarily by FX, each layer of The Entity was a complex simulation that interacted with the other components. Instead of a conventional muscle and rig system, animators and FX artists had to adapt to a different way of working. The Entity had a complex internal structure instead of a skeleton/muscle system - capped off by an articulated and animated brain array. Over this surface flowed several combinations of liquid- like simulations and skin, procedurally generated evolving light structures, and flowing surface textures. Each layer was never idle - instead they were all linked to the emotional and narrative state of the entity in the scene.

Shioli looking over her shoulder
Shioli touching The Entity

“Due to the volume of shots this could not be undertaken as a series of bespoke setups” explains Owen. “Instead, FX Supervisor Zybrand Jacobs was able to devise a series of interconnected FX simulations and systems that covered a huge variety of states and uses - an incredible feat to manage. This enables us to drive most shots and scenes from the same base line before expanding into more specific and complicated setups”.

In addition to The Entity, the London team also developed photreal digi-doubles of main characters Misuki, Nikhil, Trevante and a young Hinata. Environment work included a fully digital set replacement of the Alien Entity enclosure and surrounding mothership, and a variety of FX driven portals and other Alien constructions all built from the Entity base.

Over in New York, the Framestore team led by VFX Supervisor Thomas Montminy Brodeur, delivered a Chunnel extension on multiple sequences using a combination of old and new approaches. This involved creating DMP that were projected on 3D basic environments for over 110 shots, rather than opting for full 3d environments. 

The bioluminescent jungle sequence in episode 9 was the ultimate test for this hybrid methodology.

Mitsuki looking forward
The team engaging The Entity

The teams at Framestore helped us deliver on two of the most demanding sequences in the season. First, the NYC team set up the glowing forest sequence in a way that we could iterate right up to the final day of delivery and this made us heroes with the show's creator. Can’t thank VFX supervisor Thomas enough for having the foresight to manage that so efficiently.

Second, the London team, led by VFX supervisor Owen, delivered a beautifully expressive Entity alien that we found the audience loved as much as we did. Despite the tough task of creating a character that had no mouth or eyes to emote with, Owen and team were responsible for some of the most emotionally impactful moments in this season of Invasion.
Erik Henry
Overall VFX Supervisor, Invasion