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The Man in the High Castle, Season 2 VFX


Barnstorm VFX and Theory Studios (formerly Theory Animation) just shared the incredible VFX reel of the secons season of Amazon's "The Man in the High Castle". All modeling and rendering in Blender & Cycles - you've never seen Blender work like this before!

We're talking to both studios and will soon feature an in-depth look at this amazing production. If you have a question for them, be sure to leave it in the comments!


About the Author

Avatar image for Bart Veldhuizen
Bart Veldhuizen

I have a LONG history with Blender - I wrote some of the earliest Blender tutorials, worked for Not a Number and helped run the crowdfunding campaign that open sourced Blender (the first one on the internet!). I founded BlenderNation in 2006 and have been editing it every single day since then ;-) I also run the Blender Artists forum and I'm Head of Community at Sketchfab.


  1. Holy cow! My wife and I are finishing up another series, and I told her I wanted to start Man in the High Castle next, and she said she was down, and this was before reading this and realizing that they're using Blender for some of the effects! Now I'm definitely watching it! I'll just have to try hard not to analyze every frame! Lol.

    • We actually have been using a custom OCIO ACES color management in Blender (created by Troy Sobotka) and rendering in linear multi layer exr, which gives for a full range of luminance and allows us to light realistically and match the look of the Alexa cameras used on the show. Nonetheless, the final look of the show is very contrasts, and final color correction tends to crush and clip the darks

  2. I can only imagine how far the Blender 2.8 Series will go, if already at this stage of its existence it is already performing so much wonders. Am really happy to see this post.

    • They did an epic live stream for 24 hour World Blender Day 2018 event.... There were so many live connection around the world, the networks were glitching all day... But there may be some videos floating around... I thought it was crazy cool.

  3. Nice! Being used extensively for an Amazon Video flagship series is about as good as it gets.

    I imagine that in theory, Blender would be possible to do all the post and compositing?

    • Certainly it is possible! But other tools which are specifically for compositing are much more streamlined in my opinion, and editors such as Premiere and Final Cut are much more efficient at editing. But if you're working with what you've got, dare I say that yes, everything can be done in Blender.

  4. What in-house development tools / scripts for Blender were created and implemented during production?
    some examples of how any were used would be nice to put it in context.

    • Hi Darren! I helped Barnstorm manage the virtual team of artists, through Theory Studios (formerly Animation).

      We worked with Lukas Stockner to develop a lot of useful Blender tools, namely Light Scrambling, an early version of Denoiser, and Light groups. Ultimately Scrambling was a big benefit to speeding up renders some.

      To bridge Substance to Blender we created a custom node setup and a python bridge that would auto build materials for us based on Substance maps. That was very helpful. We used a PBR MetalRough workflow and took those 5 generated maps and piped them into a custom node that drove all materials. On top of that we made another node group to manage grunge and dirt.

      Massive to Blender was also a big challenge, requiring Maya to sit in the middle as a intermediary. We wrote a few custom scripts to break up characters and actions and pipe them onto our rigs. Those rigs were loosely based on BlenRig5 but simplified greatly for both speed and handing between multiple artists. That way if someone wanted say 5 airport workers walking around, they had a blend of 5 characters and one cube to place them. Those 5 were generated in Massive, fed in as actions and saved to the Blend. For the artists set dressing the scene it was as simple as linking them and moving the main cube around.

      ... Oh let's face it nothing was easy on this project but it was fun as hell ;)


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