Bristol vfx house, Moonraker VFX, produced just under 100 minutes of science-led visual effects for new five-part BBC series, Earth.

Earth, presented by Chris Packham, tells the story of our planet’s four and a half billion-year history.

Moonraker VFX contributed to around 30% of the final footage — 97 minutes —and represents one of the studio’s largest ever television projects.

Since being first engaged by the BBC Studios’ Science Unit, nearly two years ago, over 30 VFX artists have produced more than 13,600 individual graphic elements and 360 shots of photoreal CGI.

Scientific accuracy was always the highest priority and so Moonraker worked closely with over 200 scientists and researchers who were employed to provide guidance on everything from palaeontology and geology to climate.

“This project was challenging.  How could we convincingly place the audience on a version of earth, from earlier in its history, that may feel very familiar but look completely different from how it does now? The visual evolution of these landscapes took a lot of hard work and consideration to make sure we got every detail right,” says Simon Clarke, Co-founder and Creative Director at Moonraker.

“We contributed to some really demanding shots, like time-lapse scenes of geological events spanning many millions of years, which required huge attention to detail and asset creation.

“There were also a few firsts. We visualised ancient flora or fauna that has never been imagined in 3D before, paying particular attention to textural details and placing them in their natural habitats. The scientists were astounded with what we came up with.

“It’s been a phenomenal project and fantastic opportunity to demonstrate the talent and creativity at Moonraker VFX, but it was certainly a team effort and we’re very grateful to the BBC’s production team as well as the scientific advisers who made Earth possible.”

Rob Liddell, Executive Producer, BBC Studios, said: “With Earth we wanted to push the boundaries of what was possible with VFX sequences featuring some of the planet’s most dramatic moments. The ambition was high and Moonraker has been a brilliant partner in helping us realise it. The team brought amazing flare and attention to detail to every shot, resulting in some breathtaking moments of visual drama.”

Earth (5×60) is a BBC Studios Science Unit Production with NOVA and GBH Boston, for the BBC and PBS. It’s an Open University partnership.

Jon Creamer

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