December 2023 – Emmy nominated boutique visual effects studio Rocket Science VFX (RSVFX) built a photorealistic 3D neighborhood and complex FX simulations, comprising over 200 CG-heavy visual effects shots for Mike Flanagan’s Netflix limited series THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER.
The heart of Poe’s macabre world revolves around the enigmatic and decaying Usher family mansion. A full 3D version of the house and the surrounding street were required to help tell the story across several time periods and various states of architectural aging.
“The Usher house and the Tremont Street environment were a huge undertaking. Characters in and of themselves, with every detail needing to be accurate to reflect the time-periods and the eventual state of disrepair throughout the story.” Tom Plaskett, VFX Supervisor
The asset team modeled a full 3D version of the New York suburban street neighborhood – with the Usher hero mansion located at one end and the Longfellow house at the opposite end. Partial set builds were provided for each of the dwellings as a jumping off point for CG and specific actor interaction. For the massive CG street environment, the build required over 30 homes, and their surroundings, including greenery, electrical lines, and specific house details to sell the realistic neighborhood setting.
“Working with the Production team early on, it was established that we needed to show a gradient of wealth from one end of the street to the other. We went with Colonial Revival, Neoclassical architecture on the wealthier side and transitioned into American Craftsman, Ranch and shotgun architecture on the other end.” Tom Plaskett, VFX Supervisor
The RSVFX team was led by Tom Plaskett and John Coldrick, VFX Supervisors along with Chris Ross, VFX Producer.
The 3D Usher house would also be used as a base for the eventual collapse – engaging the assets and fx teams to collaborate closely.
“The collapse of the Usher house was the most creatively challenging body of work.” John Coldrick, VFX Supervisor
For the exterior, the FX team referenced demolition videos as well as homes that have experienced disasters, natural or otherwise. The detail in the interior, was key to selling the horror and danger – CG books falling from the shelves with debris being thrown about.
“The biggest challenge was making sure we kept the build-up consistent throughout the sequence and not going too large at the beginning but keeping enough so the audience felt the danger.” John Coldrick, VFX Supervisor
THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER Production VFX team, Bret Culp, VFX Supervisor and VFX Producer Krista Allain, further enrolled Rocket Science to take the CG mirror sequence to tell of Tamarlane Usher’s demise, along with detailed make-up augmentation for the undead Eliza Usher and additional supporting visual effects.
“We were excited to partner, once again, with the ever-talented VFX team, Bret Culp, and Krista Allain. We knew the expectations would be high. Thank you to Bret and Krista, Mike Flanagan, Intrepid Pictures, and Netflix. It’s always a pleasure to collaborate.” Anthony Paterson, CEO / Executive VFX Supervisor
Created by Showrunner, Mike Flanagan (THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE), THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER is a gothic horror drama miniseries, loosely based on the Edgar Allan Poe short story about two ruthless siblings. To secure their fortune, and future, they build a family dynasty that begins to crumble when their heirs mysteriously die, one by one.
Watch THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER on Netflix now.