How VFX Helped ‘Invasion’ Deep Space Scene Come Together

In the Apple TV+ series “Invasion,” mankind is faced with an alien attack. But instead of an invasion, the show looks at the psychological aspect and follows five characters around the world.

Visual effects were still needed even if the series focused on the trauma aspect. VFX supervisor Erik Henry says the team delivered more than 1,440 shots for the first season, which included an astro- naut sequence, creating an alien race and their ships. But due to COVID, one sequence almost didn’t happen — until VFX stepped in.

In one episode, Hinata, played by Rinko Kikuchi, wakes up in her spacesuit surrounded by what appears to be deep space. She hears something indistinguishable, but in space, how is that possible? She struggles to see where the sound is coming from and discovers a far-off white speck, swimming toward it as if in a dream. Henry says COVID-19 restrictions meant Kikuchi was stuck in her home country, and the scene seemed almost unfilmable.

It was up to Henry and the VFX team to rescue the scene.

“Our VFX team devised a strategy where the scene would be completed with just seven VFX shots combined with a film shoot that was directed and VFX supervised from across the globe utilizing Q-take video synchronization,” he says. “The idea was that the actress would only be seen from inside her helmet, then the shots that show her objectively in space, crossing the void and floating into the ship were 100% 3-D CGI.”

A scan of the actor and the suit were the basis for the CG astronaut while art department construction plans were used to create the 3-D ship and telemetry screens all perfectly matching the earlier live-action scenes shot before the ship’s destruction.

“Small floating debris was added to remind the viewer of the damage the ship had sustained,” says Henry. “The CG astronaut was hand animated. The ship was slowly rotating to allow for a dramatic reveal of the interior.”

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