PRODUCTION. THE PERIPHERAL
NOW YOU SEE IT Following consultations with Jay Worth, the show’s VFX supervisor, a cloaking effect was developed that took into account the relative densities of the vehicle’s various materials
supervisor,” clarifies Shankar. “It was very much a collaborative process. Jay would bring a lot of references to better illustrate what he had in mind, then we would have a conversation. The examples he shared gave us a sense of direction, before multiple rounds of iteration. For us, the creative element was in taking inspiration from those references and then developing the final look with its own aesthetic.” Worth provided FutureWorks with detailed notes, including patterns and textures to demonstrate the kind of effect he was looking for throughout the show. He wanted to give the audience a sense of the cloaked objects being present, even when fully invisible. What audiences see in the series are the final concepts in action. In the case of cars, a ‘shimmering’ similar to heat haze appears along the vehicle’s silhouette to indicate its presence. FutureWorks used various layers in Houdini to enable
different elements of the car to disappear or reappear. One layer for patterns and a separate one for tires, for example, with other elements combined for a more fluid and merged effect. ONCE AND FUTURE Set in 2032, The Peripheral tells the story of Flynne Fisher (played by Chloë Grace Moretz), a VR gamer who finds herself in a precarious position when the game she’s playing blends into the real world. Because the show is set nearly a decade into the future, Shankar and his team needed to make the effects somewhat futuristic, but still enabled by technology – as opposed to something more organic in origin. “This is why we added those individual panels shifting on and off, as well as the blue flash that signals its activation,” he adds. Since a car is made up of different materials, Worth had the idea that they shouldn’t all become invisible at the
same speed. “The density of the material should matter for something like this, to give it a more realistic feel,” Shankar explains. “Taking this on board, we then brainstormed multiple ways to make that happen – and went back and forth with him to decide what fits his vision and the material best.” One of the most complicated scenes FutureWorks worked on was in episode 5 ( What About Bob? ), in which a cloaked SUV crashes into deputy sheriff Tommy’s vehicle. “As the audience, we perhaps aren’t initially aware of what’s happening as Tommy’s vehicle is hit and tossed into the air,” Shankar suggests. “But the appearance of a previously cloaked SUV ultimately leaves us in no doubt as to the cause of the accident.” In fact, there are subtle signs before that give things away. In the frames leading up to impact, eagle-eyed viewers may spot the telltale shimmer denoting the presence of a cloaked car.
“For us, the creative element was in taking inspiration from those references – and then developing the final look with its own aesthetic”
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