Exclusive: behind Framestore Pre-production Services’ previs for ‘The Last of Us’

Be the first to watch FPS’ reel containing previs work for 3 killer scenes in the HBO series.

In this befores & afters exclusive, Framestore has shared its The Last of Us previs reel from the studio’s Framestore Pre-production Services (FPS) outfit.

You’ll see how three different scenes came together using several methods, including mocap and the use of Unreal Engine.

Plus, Framestore has provided a description of the work involved.

Check out the reel, below, and the VFX studio’s description.

Framestore Pre-production Services (FPS) provided a standalone visualisation service for HBO’s critically-acclaimed adaptation of The Last Of Us, offering a range of creative and logistical solutions for three of the show’s key sequences – all highlighted as part of Framestore’s show-and-tell reel.

Led by Creative Director, Pre-production Services, Vincent Aupetit, the team’s work showcases how previs helped the showrunners map, plan and lock their creative vision –  all while putting Framestore’s Unreal pipeline through its paces. “We were brought on for three major sequences,” says Aupetit.

“As huge fans of the game we were really buzzing, especially for that early, game-changer sequence where Joel and Ellie are ambushed, since that was in the original game trailer. We used the Capture Lab in our London studio to mock up key elements from the sequence – we basically were briefed on Monday, shot mocap on Wednesday, and by Friday we delivered a sequence of 30 or so shots.”

This sequence, involving a gun battle and car crash required input in terms of shoot logistics and testing camera angles. “The team sent us the location’s layout,” says Aupetit.

“They wanted to know if the cameras they had in mind would work, particularly for the stunt where the car crashes into the laundromat. That was a question of distances, angles and logistics, just helping everyone involved understand what would work and what would look good. That very fast turnaround, where we provided previews and the team shot the sequence the following week, was made possible only by our in-house direct access to Capture Lab and our Maya to Unreal pipeline.”

As well as helping with practicalities and logistics, the show also allowed the FPS team to flex their creative muscle. “The scene in episode five with the infected emerging from the ground and the appearance of the first bloater was really fun to do,” says Vincent.

“There are something like 80 infected in there coming out of a house that’s on fire, and you have Ellie caught between them and 25 or 30 members of the militia. It’s a long sequence with a lot going on – flames, gunfire, scrambling infected, lots of crowd work and that huge, hulking bloater – so we were really able to let it rip. We put a lot of effort in to really push Unreal and get the visual quality as high as we could, so it was really rewarding to see how closely the finals resembled our previs.”

As well as showcasing the team’s talent, The Last Of Us also demonstrates how FPS are able to operate as a standalone service outside of Framestore’s full pipeline. Final VFX for the sequences mentioned above was completed by other companies.

And while Framestore’s London-based IA team also worked on the show’s ninth episode – providing several farmhouse establishers, comp work, set extension and a CG umbilical cord – these were not scenes that drew on FPS work.

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