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Milk VFX reveal some of their favourite Doctor Who creations

As we know, there’s been a lot of changes in the cast and crew with the advent of Chris Chibnall as the new show runner. One such change that hasn’t quite received the same attention: the special effects team.

Milk VFX have been providing the stunning graphics for the show since The Day of the Doctor, with many of its members having come from the The Mill, who had worked on the show since 2005. As the team hand the baton over to DNEG, they reflected in an interview with Metro about their work on the show.
Dominic Alderson, CG Supervisor at Milk, said:

“The technology changes a little bit and that pushes us to try more creative things – because technology is better and the software is getting better, they push our creative ideas more. Doctor Who is its own very specific world so whatever you create, you need to make sure you’re living in that world. I think it’s been pretty similar since I started on it.

There are lots of challenges. Every new episode of Doctor Who has got some crazy sci-fi idea or creature so it’s a lovely challenge to try and conceive these things and see what you can come up with.”

There have been many memorable monsters over the years and we all have our own favourites, and so do the team who brought them to life. Alderson revealed one of his favourites comes from the Twelfth Doctor’s first episode, Deep Breath:

“The half-faced man was an exciting one to work on. The prosthetic team did a great job, and the make-up team as well. We built a prosthetic head with all the little cogs and mechanisms moving inside so we used that as a reference. On set the make-up team had painted half of his face off, we then go in, remove all of that and do it again in digital visual effects.

That was a really challenging one because we had to make sure we could track his head, every little movement of his head, and to make sure all our 3D objects, all the cogs, sat in the right place and didn’t wobble and move about so it looked like it was all seamless.’ A part of their struggle working on Doctor Who was logistical, with some episodes only being finished a week before they were scheduled to air.”

Meanwhile, Visual Effects Producer Louise Hastings revealed:

“I think episode four Knock Knock was my favourite, because I loved how creepy it looked in the end with the lice crawling over the guy and dissolving him into dust.”

When asked what the key is to creating timeless special effects, Alderson reckons it’s not as simple as it used to be:

“It’s difficult to answer that. I think about timeless special effects in stuff that I like, it comes down to is it serving the story? Has it got a reason to be there?

I think if you keep throwing special effects at people they get bored which is a crazy thing to say, because once upon a time it was really expensive to put a couple of hundred shots into a film, now we’re putting thousands of shots into a film and people are expecting it. I think the trick is to do something that serves the plot, the story and on the flip side of that, it can be the invisible effect, you might be expanding something like creating a period of time that doesn’t exist anymore. So I think that’s timeless as well, if you do it right.”

Well, Milk VFX have certainly done it right for the past few years, with some astounding visual effects that really bring the Whoniverse to life.