VFX from Ingenuity Studios Instrumental to Anthology Series 'Solos'
July 19, 2021

VFX from Ingenuity Studios Instrumental to Anthology Series 'Solos'

Exclusively available on Amazon Prime Video, Solos is a dramatic seven-part anthology series that spans the present and the future, exploring the deeper meaning of human connection through the lens of the individual, with help from visual effects. Each character sets off on a thrilling adventure in an uncertain future and ultimately discovers that even during our most isolated moments, we are all connected through the human experience. 
The series features an all-star cast including Academy Award winners Morgan Freeman, Anne Hathaway, and Helen Mirren, along with Uzo Adubo, Anthony Mackie, Constance Wu, Dan Stevens, and Nicole Beharie. 

Ingenuity Studios, the primary VFX house on this show, completed 512 shots across all seven episodes of Solos, with effects ranging from developing unique environments to futuristic technology that interacts with characters, along with time period shifts, a body double scene, continuity work, and more. Notably, the ocean in the “Stuart” episode (starring Morgan Freeman and Dan Stevens) is the only filmed element to be incorporated into the series. All other elements were either created in- camera or with visual effects artistry. 

“Given how much interaction the actors have with their environment as each episode unfolds — as opposed to a large cast of characters — visual effects really adds to the story by bringing to bear complex and sometimes fantastical scenarios,” said David Lebensfeld, founder and VFX supervisor at Ingenuity Studios. “Solos was designed to meet the challenges of production during the COVID-19 pandemic while remaining true to its foundational story which centered on our shared humanity,” Lebensfeld added. “As for the Ingenuity team, Solos was special to us for a number of reasons. It was our first anthology television series, and it was our first television production during COVID, following quite a few commercials and music videos that were filmed during the pandemic. Each episode of Solos is fundamentally an individual short film allowing the performances to shine.”

Here, the studio highlights the VFX in each episode.

Episode "Stuart" — Morgan Freeman, Dan Stevens.
(Directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson)
Sky and beach replacements: These were shot on blue screen and practically.
Memory/consciousness transfer UI: Stuart and Otto wear wrist patches that have a graphical user interface showing the transfer progress throughout the episode. The injection serum that starts the process was also designed by Ingenuity Studios.

Episode "Leah" — Anne Hathaway.
(Directed by Zach Braff)
Green orb: She uses a white spherical orb as a communication device as well as a journal of sorts. The Ingenuity Studios team gave it life with an animated lighting design that pulses green and white.
Futuristic phone User Interface (UI): She uses a thick, clear glass/acrylic phone throughout the episode. Ingenuity Studios created the original phone UI.
Time machine enhancement: Ingenuity Studios added bolts of electricity to the shots where her time travel machine goes berserk.
Add crying: There is a scene where she is crying but she didn't actually cry tears on set, so Ingenuity Studios added tears and tear trails that fall down her cheeks.
Chalk disappearing: One of the walls in her lab is covered with chalk scrawlings of math equations from her research. During the dramatic final scene in which time is becoming undone, Ingenuity Studios created an FX-driven effect to get the chalk to detach and float away/disappear from the wall.
Physical objects disappearing: Also, in the dramatic final scene, all of the physical objects (desk, chair, time machine, etc.) start to disappear as well.

Episode "Sasha" — Uzo Aduba.
(Directed by David Weil)
Fire continuity: There is a fireplace in her home that is on in some shots and off in others. The Ingenuity Studios team added fire where needed for continuity.
CG pool: In the final scene, she realizes her home is not what it seems. The floor-to-ceiling windows comprising one wall of her home turn out to be computer screens and they switch to a memory from her childhood of playing in the pool. The windows change and make it look like the house is at the bottom of the pool.

Episode "Nera" — Nicole Beharie.
(Directed by David Weil)
Enhance blizzard: The practical snow they used on set was lackluster and a big scary blizzard was needed. Ingenuity Studios added heavy snow in every shot with a visible window.
Radio hologram: She has a retro-looking futuristic radio that projects holograms for its display. 
Phone hologram UI: Her cell phone has screens and a projected hologram, all designed by Ingenuity Studios. 

Episode "Tom" — Anthony Mackie.
(Directed by David Weil)
Solving for Anthony Mackie playing twins: The Ingenuity Studios team made sure stunt double body proportions match Mackie's, and in one big shot of the two twin Mackies shaking hands. 

Episode "Peg" — Helen Mirren.
(Directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson)
TYM: The only other character in the episode is the computer system controlling the ship, named "TYM." TYM has advanced artificial intelligence and holds dynamic conversations with Peg, soothing her, informing her, and actively listening and encouraging her to tell stories. TYM has a "face" of sorts on the large console in front of Peg's cockpit chair. Ingenuity Studios designed the look and all animation for TYM.
Outer space shots: The Ingenuity Studios team created shots of Peg's craft flying through space among the moon, sun, and stars. 

Episode "Jenny" — Constance Wu.
(Directed by David Weil)
Medical monitors and equipment: At the end of the episode, we see Jenny in a medical lab with monitors, control panels, and even a diode attached to her forehead. Ingenuity Studios designed and animated all of the screens to hit the desired story points.
Wings replacement: There was an entire scene of Jenny filmed without the actress wearing her costume wings. Ingenuity Studios artfully worked them in.
Technology used by the Ingenuity Studios team included Nuke, Maya, Houdini, Renderman, ZBrush, Marvelous Designer, After Effects, Hiero, and Resolve. 

David Weil – Creator and Executive Producer + Director on Sasha, Nera, Tom, and Jenny episodes
Sam Taylor-Johnson – Executive Producer + Director on Stuart and Peg episodes
Zach Braff – Director on Leah episode Laura Lancaster – Executive Producer
Jason Neese, Jamie Neese – Co-Producers (Post Production)
Juliette Yager – VFX Executive, Amazon Studios 
David Lebensfeld – Founding Partner and VFX Supervisor
Grant Miller - Partner and VFX Supervisor
Matthew Poliquin - Executive Producer
Evan Davies - Senior VFX Producer
Joshua Seward – VFX Producer
Matthew Robillard – Lead Compositor