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Dark Shadows

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The Tim Burton directed feature film, Dark Shadows, is based on an American gothic soap opera that originally aired in the US from 1966 to 1971. Johnny Depp stars as vampire Barnabas Collins which makes this the eighth feature Depp and Burton have collaborated on – an enduring professional and personal relationship that continues to draw movie goers to the box office.

Method Studios Vancouver crew were brought on board to help transport the audience back in time and ensure that ‘Collinsport’, where much of the action occurs, looked a convincingly vintage Maine township. All of the location plates were shot on stage at Pinewood Studios in England and the Method artists were tasked with creating Collinsport in both 1970 and 1950. A fine attention to detail was needed to guarantee that both representations looked authentic to their respective time periods.

Mark Breakspear, Method’s VFX Supervisor comments, “The main challenge of this project was achieving the accurate look that Tim envisaged for the town and making sure we matched the style and feel that the art dept had constructed.”

Several scenes needed more complex CG augmentation than others. The shots in which Victoria arrives in town by train for the first time involved replacing much of the basic set with a CG train and station. The CG crew also enhanced the coastal atmosphere by adding cg oceans, fishing boats, extending the fishing port up and down the coast and animating and compositing 3D seagulls in to many shots.

Visual effects more in-keeping with what you would expect from a vampire film were required for a scene where Barnabus walks along a hallway full of mirrors carrying an old oil lamp. As Vampires do not reflect within mirrors, the team rebuilt the hallway, the lamp and many other reflections in CG in order to control the bounces from mirror to mirror, leaving you with a ghostly corridor with a solitary lamp floating along it.


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