Fantastic Beasts: Cinesite reveals impressive VFX breakdown

·Senior Editor

The secret of good CGI is not seeing the joins. You only know it’s working when you don’t notice it at all, so when you finally get to see beneath the surface it’s even more impressive.

This VFX breakdown above for ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them’ showcases some of the seamless CGI work created for the ‘Harry Potter’ spin-off by Cinesite, an independent visual effects and animation studio based in London and Montreal, that delivered over 100 VFX shots for the film.

It shows the sheer volume of work required to create the dinner scene where Queenie Goldstein prepares a meal for Newt, Jacob, and her sister Tina using magic.

Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts Publishing Rights © J.K.R. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them © 2016 WBEI. Publishing Rights © J.K.R.
Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts Publishing Rights © J.K.R. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them © 2016 WBEI. Publishing Rights © J.K.R.

Having multiple CG plates, bowls, apples, napkins, cutlery and glass flying through the air meant careful choreography was required, plus many objects had transparent surfaces, requiring refraction. The lighting environment around the CG table was also very complex, with multiple light sources around the room to replicate.

The dinner culminates with the ingredients of an apple strudel descending in front of Jacob; the fruit is wrapped in layers of pastry, before the whole strudel cooks to a brown crisp and descends hot and ready to eat onto the centre of the table.

The shot was built with custom FX. Heavy animated texturing, shading and displacement work was required to give the appearance of cooking whilst the strudel floats through the air. Extra blend shapes were also added to allow the whole pastry to appear as though it shrinks down a little as it cooks.

On top of that, Cinesite extended the sets beyond the girls’ windows to recreate 1920s New York with digital matte paintings. These were created using a mix of 3D rendered buildings, 3D projected building detail and projected digital matte paintings.

For more information on the visual effects Cinesite created for all eight ‘Harry Potter’ movies, visit the company’s latest blog post.

Cinesite will be appearing at The VFX Festival 2017, presenting its work on ‘Independence Day: Resurgence’. The VFX Festival 2017 takes place at Rich Mix in London, from 7-9 February. Tickets are available to buy now from

‘Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them’ is in cinemas now.

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