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FX partners with Method Studios to create ‘World Of Shōgun’

Client: FX

World of Shōgun is a six-minute fully animated piece of short form content produced by FX, in close collaboration with our teams at Method Studios. Created principally in Unreal Engine (UE), World of Shōgunimmerses audiences in the enthralling world of FX’s landmark limited series, providing them with a historical overview of Feudal Japan and a deeper understanding of the power struggles that springboard the series’ events.

In early 2022, FX’s Marketing team began development on a plan to launch the series. Stephanie Gibbons, FX’s President of Marketing, approached their Content Design & VFX team with a creative challenge, “Shogun takes place in medieval Japan, a rich and vast world, with historical and period specific complexities.  We need to create a lush companion piece that sets the table for fans – an experiential tapestry with the context and detail they need to fully immerse themselves in the Shogun experience.” The team was eager to assist and set out on a two-year journey to create an epic and engaging entry-point for audiences to discover the new series. 

As the project began to take shape, FX knew the piece would be a continuously evolving narrative, offering a perfect opportunity to tap into the power of UE as the core production package. This also meant it was time to bring in a key visual effects partner and FX approached Method to collaborate on the project. “I knew we needed a partner who understood our brand, the intersection of design & visual effects, and had the resources and expertise to execute this piece in Unreal,” Steve Viola, SVP, Design & Visual Effects at FX.

To bring the piece to life, the FX Design & VFX team worked with the series historians while exhaustively researching a wide gamut of Japanese history, from the social and bureaucratic structures of the Nara Period, through the end of Tokugawa shogunate. Once the foundation was laid, the FX team developed the script, storyboards, edit, and visual style of the piece, they were also building out a library of CG assets, many originating as photogrammetry from the show’s visual effects team. These included key characters, sets, props, and wardrobe, which would serve as base assets ­and helped ensure both authenticity and a degree of continuity with the show itself. 

While the FX team continued development on the script, editorial, motion design of the opening sequence and titles, a number of individual vfx shots, and finishing – Method became a major partner taking on the majority of the visual effects sequences including layout, animation, fx, lighting, and compositing. Our teams at Method, led by Jon Noorlander, Global ECD, were involved early in the production process, and also proved instrumental in developing innovative tools to translating FX’s signature Shōgun aesthetic into a unique creative look dev inside UE.

The team at Method used UE's Metahumans, which made it possible to create photoreal likenesses, grooms, and facial animations. The epic fight sequences were done by leveraging UE's extensive mocap toolset. The stylized treatment was also developed in UE, using carefully considered and hand-placed brushstroke textures to nail the painterly effect. Additionally, the Houdini FX produced by Method ranged from a photoreal falcon with a feather system to cloth, armour, groom, water, and fire.

The team began look development exploring the stylistic approach that would allow World of Shōgun to fully showcase the authentic detail present in every asset, scan and CG model used, all-the-while being visually artistic enough as to ensure a clear differentiation from the show itself. The shot work was almost entirely executed in UE, with minimal post-processing in Nuke. Jon adds, "With its real-time rendering, world-building, and metahuman capabilities, there was no better tool for this film than Unreal." 

“Everything about the piece continued to evolve throughout production as we kept sharpening the script to optimize our storytelling, and continually fact-checking every aspect of what we were creating,” says Dan Masciarelli of FX’s Content Design group.  This necessitated that FX and Method work closely in parallel, FX mocking up newly scripted sequences then sending edit collects along to Method to repopulate with shot updates – a process made possible with Method’s UE pipeline.  Ultimately the plan paid off and culminated in a highly successful and unique partnership between FX and Method through to the end of the production process.

‘FX’s Shōgun’ premiered globally on February 27 and is Now Streaming Exclusively on Hulu and Hulu on Disney+ in the U.S., Star+ in Latin America and Disney+ in All Other Territories.


Steve Viola

EVP, Global Managing Director:

Jesse Kurnit

VFX Executive Producers:

Adrienne Mitchell, Nikki Ferrara, Karina Partington

Senior Design Producer:

Claire Dorwart

Senior VFX Production Coordinator:

Juliann Barbella

Global Executive Creative Director:

Jon Noorlander

Executive Creative Director:

John Likens

Creative Director:

Wes Ebelhar

Lead Art Director:

Seiji Anderson

Design & Animation:

David Weinstock, Ihsu Yoon, Michael DeCaprio

Senior FX Supervisor:

Tomas Slancik

Associate VFX Supervisor:

Alex Cheparev

Full Credits