London VFX house Milk created the visual effects for the Peter Capaldi‘s debut episode as Doctor Who, directed by Ben Wheatley. The highly anticipated 80-minute episode was simulcast and screened in cinemas globally on Aug. 23.
The focus of Milk’s work was the sinister and mysterious Half-Face Man, the principal villain who appears throughout the episode. Milk replaced one entire side of the actor Peter Ferdinando‘s head in 87 of the 117 digital shots produced by Milk.
Milk created the CG hollow cage-like structure which makes up the missing half of Half-Face Man’s head as well as the visible internal workings of his head which resemble the mechanics of a clock, with moving cogs, pistons and rotating mechanical parts.
Milk also designed and created the T-Rex in the opening sequence and the Victorian London cityscape which included CG builds of the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and St Paul’s, along with wide fly-over views of the Thames as the episode reaches its climax.
“The most exciting challenge of ‘Deep Breath’ was realizing the Half-Face Man, not least because of the sheer number of shots,” said Will Cohen, CEO and co-founder of Milk VFX. “We heavily relied upon all aspects of Milk’s pipeline in order to successfully achieve a photo-real look that allowed the audience to totally engage with the character. Ben Wheatley and the production team made it a hugely enjoyable collaboration. He worked very closely with us to enable us to achieve work that we are very proud of.”
Milk is currently in production on the new 12-episode eighth series of Doctor Who for the BBC, as well as the new TV drama Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, a seven-part mini-series due to be broadcast on BBC One in the U.K. in 2015.
The company recently won a British Academy Television Craft award for its work on Doctor Who‘s 50th anniversary special “The Day of the Doctor.”