The otherworldly drama returns with familiar faces and eye-catching effects
When Foundation premiered in 2021, the adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s sci-fi novels received praise for its ambitious story and visual effects. Following a successful debut, it returns this year for another sprawling series following Dr Hari Seldon (Jared Harris), Gaal Dornick (Lou Llobell), Brother Day (Lee Pace), and his android aide Demerzel (Laura Birn) as we chart the fall of the 12,000-year-old Galactic Empire.
After working on the previous season, Outpost were awarded a number of key sequences for season two, with VFX work spanning set extensions, environment work, and the attempted decapitation – and regeneration – of robot Demerzel.
The team were no strangers to grisly effects. In season one, Outpost delivered a complex sequence in which we see Demerzel claw at her synthetic face, revealing the circuitry beneath. The team were also responsible for developing the look and behaviour of the nano technology she uses to repair herself in season 1, which was used as a reference point for her regeneration process in season 2. Outpost 2D Supervisor, Geoff Wigmore, said: “Having done something similar in season one, we knew the client already had an idea for how this technology worked and what it looked like.”
The regeneration sequence would span multiple shots and require collaboration from Outpost’s 3D and 2D departments. VFX Supervisor, Mathieu Assemat, said:
“The plate featured actress, Laura Birn, in front of a vanity mirror, wearing a cap across one side of her head. We were tasked with removing the capped area and replacing with CG elements that represented her android skull and its inner workings.”
We then watch her use a pen-like tool to regrow her ‘skull’. Wigmore adds: “Because she’s talking in a few of the shots we needed some serious CFX help, as well as comp reprojecting, warping, and blending. It was definitely a labour of love.”
Outpost were also responsible for intricate environment work for the planet Synnax. A world affected by rising sea levels, and covered entirely in water, Synnax is home of mathematics prodigy Gaal Dornick. Creating the world would involve transforming the plate into an entire planet of water, keeping only a small amount of set dressing, and removing the crew, equipment and location details. As a ringed world similar to Saturn, the skyline in the sequence would also need to be modified to include the planet’s rings on the horizon.
While work on both season one and two was complex, creating stand-out scenes across both seasons has been a rewarding experience for the team. Wigmore said: “Throughout the whole process, the client-side team were great to work with and very open to collaboration. They were fantastic in that they would show us some options to work from and provide us with really honest and constructive feedback. It was a very open working relationship and really nice to be able to have that kind of input.”
Both seasons of Foundation are available to steam now.