VFX Futures: The art and tech behind Nivellan

How ILM helped transform Kristofer Hivju into the beastly character in s2 of ‘The Witcher.’

When photos and footage of actor Kristofer Hivju wearing make-up effects appliances and a head-mounted camera in order to play Nivellan in season 2 of The Witcher were seen by fans, people were excited about the approach taken to bring this character to life.

And it’s this approach that we discuss in the newest episode of VFX Futures, where befores & afters held a round-table discussion with members of Industrial Light & Magic’s crew who helped bring Nivellan to life. ILM took Hivju’s on-set performance, and delivered the creature with a fully CG head and face. To do this, the VFX studio adapted its markerless and machine learning Flux tech originally created for The Irishman to translate Hivju’s facial performance into the beast.

This is all detailed in the podcast, along with additional information about the creature build (including the eyes and groom), animation and compositing process. You’ll hear from five of ILM’s team: Shaun Roth (CG supervisor), Adam Ferrall-Nunge (senior R&D engineer), Rasely Ma (layout lead/facial capture supervisor), Marko Chulev (creature model supervisor) and Ryan Clarke (compositing supervisor).

Check out the episode at Apple Podcasts or Google Podcasts, or embedded below. Plus, check out a slideshow of VFX images and ILM’s VFX breakdown.

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