Monarch: Legacy of Monsters

Some secrets cannot be contained

Project Category






Outpost VFX Producer

Abby Bueno

Outpost VFX Supervisor

Robin Lamontagne

Project Overview

“We had a nice blend of large-scale environments, epic explosions and set extensions for Monarch: Legacy of Monsters,” Outpost VFX Supervisor, Robin Lamontagne, explains.

The series follows siblings Cate and Kentaro who, upon learning that monsters are real, trace their father’s footsteps to uncover their family connection to the secret organisation Monarch and its link to the Titans.

“For episode 1, we were tasked with creating a large, run-down plutonium plant,” Lamontagne continues. The abandoned plant is discovered by Monarch officials and Cate and Kentaro’s grandparents, Bill and Keiko, who are researching the Titans and discover the abandoned plutonium factory is a radiation dead zone.

“When we began constructing the plutonium environment, we built it almost like a Lego set, experimenting with buildings, fences and other assets,” Outpost Environment Artist, Pablo Velasco Jimenez recalls.

"We wanted to reference nuclear plants from that era, so we spent some time looking into plants from the 1950s to find elements to include to make it feel authentic," Jimenez continues.

The plutonium plant was expansive, with a large dome structure in the middle which would feature in an important moment later in the series. “With modelling the dome, the aim was to create it in a way that it fulfilled the concept images we were given, but that it would also function in the real world,” Outpost Senior Modeller Melvin K explains.

“To do this, I researched a lot of similar structures to understand their form and shape, which then informed the modelling process,” Melvin continues. “I started by creating basic shapes and blocking out the silhouette of the model. After a few iterations, I realised that adding generators and signal towers helped the model look more realistic and aided in communicating scale.”

As the series features a number of different timelines, the plutonium plant asset needed to have varying levels of decay and destruction according to how old and run-down the environment was. The modelling team built it with the knowledge that they would be handing it over to the FX team to destruct with explosives and create an implosion in the plant’s dome later in the series.

“For the implosion FX, we gathered as much relevant reference as we could,” Senior FX Artist Gavin Taylor begins. “The key to a successful implosion was knowing how thick or thin, strong or weak certain parts of the structure were as this helped us in how to approach the final look of the FX,” he continues. “We wanted to make sure everything was living in harmony with each other and that every movement or interaction of the pieces had reason to move like that.”

“We started with a Houdini RBD network,” Taylor continues, “then we used methods of selection to unstick the glue that held together certain pieces of the dome. Once this was simulated, it was then fed through numerous post-deforming techniques to achieve the right look.

“Procedural textures were used to deform the fine detail to the surface, while different lattice deformers were used to help the more solid pieces bend under the stress of the collapse,” Taylor explains.

“The client wanted to feel like the dust volume that shook off the surface was also being sucked into the core. Using custom vectors/velocities, we were able to guide the dust directly into the openings created by the implosion,” Taylor continues.

Additional assets crafted by the Outpost team included the freighter vessel for Cate and Kentaro’s ferry crossing in episode 3. For this, the team took the plates which were shot on a blue-screen set with a small structure as a bow and created a full-scale freight vessel, as well as the surrounding environment and water simulation.

The freighter itself would be modelled on a real-life “roll-on, roll-off” cargo freighter named the Hartland Point. This meant the modelling team were able to gather real dimensions and measurements when creating the asset, assisting with overall scale.

“The freighter itself was somewhere between an asset and an environment,” Outpost CG Generalist Jake Cohen explains, “both in terms of scale and the level of detail that certain areas needed.”

The surrounding environment included a complex full-CG water simulation. “Every time I start on a water sequence, the first thing I’ll do is track down very specific references that then become a bible throughout development,” Lamontagne reveals.

“For us on this particular sequence, not only did we have a very long and close up shot, but it was also an angle that was practically impossible to find reference for,” Lamontagne continues. “We ended up finding a reverse angle of a similar ship that was of usable quality and we went all out on it.”

Another key element of the team’s work on the series involved the vast destruction across the San Francisco cityscape. Taking aerial plate footage of the city, the team built the damage using a mix of 3D and DMP elements to bring the environment together. “The sweeping camera movement in this establisher shows the a number of the city’s landmark buildings, including the Transamerica Pyramid” Lamontagne explains. “We had to add destruction to almost all of the buildings, placing rubble and debris across the city.”

Reflecting on their time working on this project, the team were thrilled to have contributed to the iconic franchise: “My brother and I used to play the Godzilla: Destroy all Monsters! video game all the time, so working on this was really cool,” Cohen says, “I can’t wait to see how the destroyed San Francisco we created for a sequence ended up so destroyed!”

Lamontagne adds: “Oh man, it’s a great feeling to be able to check something off! Godzilla has had a huge impact on a lot of people and to be able to have contributed to this is a great feeling.”

“We’re grateful to our world-class internal team that brought these different bodies of work to life and delivered outstanding work,” Outpost VFX Producer Abigail Bueno adds. “Our clients Jessica Smith and Sean Konrad made the process smooth and collaborative from start to finish, and it truly was a pleasure.”

All episodes of Monarch: Legacy of Monsters are available to stream today.