The City and the City

Synopsis

Beszel and Ulqoma: Two cities existing in the same physical space, forced to shun each other. Under strict laws enforced by the anonymous Breach authorities, these two cities are compelled to be enemies. For citizens, the highest crime is illegal border crossing, punishable by death. But in Beszel, an Ulqoman girl has been found dead. Enter crime squad detective Tyador Borlu, a world-weary cop who must not only solve this murder but face the political ramifications of this case. During the series we see Borlu cross the line between the cities and face his dark past.

Based on the best-selling novel by China Meiville, City and the City is a stylish four-part drama produced by Mammoth Screen for the BBC.

What The Flying Colour Company was asked to do

Help design the concepts for the visual distinctions between the two cities, attend recces and provide on-set supervision. TFCC was also asked to complete all 120 principle VFX shots for the four episodes in Meiville’s adaptation. The work included look development. TFCC co-founder Dom Thomson provided VFX supervision during the shoot and also supervised all the shots through the facility.

How we did it

Among the elements completed by TFCC was: the overall look for the separation between the cities: the Copula Hall asset build and subsequent comps throughout; the radio towers; the big shooting scene in episode three; the cave scenes and link through to Sear; and core multiple set extensions.

TFCC managing director Simon Wilkinson says: “We worked closely with the director Tom Shankland, the production designer Simon Rogers and the wonderful production team at Mammoth including Preethi Mavahalli, Damien Timmer and Betsan Morris-Evans, to help create a visual shield that would separate the twin cities in a stylish and visually compelling way. It was important that the effects would help facilitate the idea that both cities were occupying the same physical space and that could be conveyed clearly to the audience.”

TFCC also provided on-set supervision for the larger sequences, including a climactic cave sequence where the team was tasked with compositing Glyphs onto the walls and ceiling of the cave.

The VFX team also worked on location in Liverpool, helping establish shots and create set extensions to turn the city into the fictional and futuristic landscape of Meiville’s novel.

All work was completed using Flame.