Sadie Sink’s Performance Shaped Dear Billy VFX

stranger things dominated the pop culture sphere this summer as the series made its triumphant return to Netflix after a three-year hiatus between seasons 3 and 4. The epic fourth season took the series to new heights with more episodes longer, more intense horror sequences, and absolutely incredible visual effects as we began to really dig into the origins of the Upside Down and its apparent master. While Season 4 is utterly impressive, there’s one moment that’s been on everyone’s mind since Volume 1 was released in late May: Max’s “Running Up That Hill” streak.

In an interview with Collider’s Samantha Coleyvisual effects supervisor Julian Hery explained how his team at Rodeo FX expanded Vecna’s mind’s lair and built a ton of stage visual effects around it. Sadie sinkthe remarkable performance of. The scene basically breaks down into two parts: the first half in which Vecna ​​(Jamie Campbell Bower) has Max (Sink) restrained, intending to add him to her collection of wayward teens, and the second where she hurts him and runs back to the safety of her friends. “There are plans where you have Max on the island and Vecna, and then when that changes, and when it’s on the island, it’s basically the whole island that’s made practical,” Hery said. “And then when she manages to escape, it’s basically a whole set of blue screens. So everything is blue screen.”


The VFX teams behind stranger things are tasked with creating both massive landscapes that fill the entire screen, as well as tiny, intimate details in close-ups. And in this particular scene, a lot of their work depends on the performance of the actors in the scene. Hery praised Sink’s performance in both parts of the scene, explaining how they created the twisting vines that Vecna ​​uses to trap her in her lair:

“It’s pretty impressive. It’s all CG vines. There was no placeholder. I think there were maybe a few shots where she had a wrist placeholder to help her act like she was [restrained.] Otherwise, she had no strings around her neck or anything like that. So I think the performance was really great. What we did on these was match her performance, making sure everything lined up perfectly with her. So we could then animate all these vines on her neck and make sure they stuck to her performance, but we were really relying on what she was doing. Each time she wanted to suffer or suffocate, we added vines to liven up differently, to contract, to curl up, just to make sure that it really corresponded to what she was doing during the day. “

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In the sequence where Max emerges from Vecna’s lair, the monstrous villain attempts to stop him by crushing him with debris from the Upside Down. With the majority of this scene being CG animated, the VFX team had to create effects that affect and react to Sink’s acting choices and movements throughout the sequence. Hery explained the collaboration process, saying, “So we obviously had a montage of the footage, where it would be. So we got cues from the actress’ performance giving us an idea, ‘Okay. We need to have debris to the right, to the left, and know a little about the timing.” He continued, “We’re starting to do what we call a preview, a previous visualization. It’s basically a mock-up of the timing. So we had some pretty rough rocks falling just to get a sense of how it blends together. Does it create the feeling of claustrophobia that you can feel being chased like that?

Explaining how all of these moving parts fit together, Hery said:

“We liked what we call a body match move. So we did a performance match move. So we have it running digitally that way. When we run simulations of things that explode, they can collide, and parts can collide on her body, then when she runs or so, we can have the blood that we create in CG, the blood can collide with her, and even the smoke we added to the ground can collide with his footsteps. We’re still keeping his performance, but we have, let’s say, a digital double that we only use to recreate those interactions that you wouldn’t otherwise have. So everything is closely related to the performance of the actress in this way.

stranger things Season 4 is available now on Netflix and be sure to stay tuned to Collider for our full interview with Hery. In the meantime, check out our Season 4 interview with the Duffer Brothers below.

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