Earth may well be the ultimate purveyor of fascinating narratives. Framestore was proud therefore to work once more with National Geographic to showcase mankind’s home environment in all of its awe-inspiring glory, in the broadcaster’s latest global event series, One Strange Rock. Told across ten episodes, the series from executive producers Darren Aronofsky and Jane Root sees eight astronauts guide viewers through some of Earth’s extraordinary stories, told from their very unique perspectives.
Framestore’s Television department was approached to manage the VFX for the series in its entirety, from creative through production. Drawing on its immense internal expertise and infrastructure to realise the brief, Framestore also commissioned a network of VFX studios to help execute key sequences to bring together one extraordinary series.
In true Nat Geo style, One Strange Rock features both live-action photography and visual effects to bring seemingly impossible images to the screen. The series balances micro and macro levels of detail throughout, with VFX working to illustrate scientific phenomena in dazzling style.
Each VFX sequence was visualised by Framestore’s Television creatives in advance of producers putting the complex, cross-studio delivery system in place. The model has been used previously by the Television team - well-versed in managing the creative and production workflow of VFX-heavy shows - to ensure efficient turnaround of stellar visual effects for television schedules.
The core challenge, however, lies in the complexity of the brief: how to visualise what is invisible to the human eye, and give shape to scientific concepts beyond everyday understanding. Framestore worked extensively on concept art, to form a tangible base for the beautiful organic imagery.
The resulting VFX demonstrate the likes of diatoms, which explain how oxygen sustains life in an underwater environment; and a wide-ranging sequence showing the Earth’s magnetosphere, pulling from the liquid core of the planet all the way to outer space. Specialist photography by Chris Parks, Tim Shepherd and many other talents provided a library of organic textures shot at high speed, which were also layered into the CG work to give even greater realism and depth.