Sensel Studio
Sensory Elusions

Orient Express for 21st Century Fox


Orient Express for 20th Century Fox


For Kenneth Branagh’s adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express, it was impossible to schedule the mega-star cast for location shoots in New Zealand. Because the cast could not fly to location, meandering skylines and winding landscapes were transported to Longcross Film Studios in Greater London via video playback on a massive LED wall, a cinematic first for a 65mm motion picture.

Green screen was unsuitable for shots featuring the cast inside the Orient Express. The train set’s reflective surfaces were prone to green spill and posed a challenge for post-production. The film’s VFX team required footage to be sequenced, mapped and composited on-set to look and feel believable in-camera. A pair of 90x40 foot LED walls were constructed around the train set. The media server team successfully achieved a 360º enhanced environment by playing back dual 8K plates, mapped to 2,500 LED panels, outputting 24fps, in real-time.

The key challenge presented on-site was how to map dual 8K plates to a pair of 90x40 foot LED walls.

The background plates were significantly contorted, for example railways bowed and telegraph poles arched. The media server team explored mappings to see if content could be re-composed without re-rendering, and generated a library of perspective and spherical maps. Over the eight week shoot period the media server team crafted hundreds of compositions, and mappings were keyframed on-the-fly to match cameras in position, rotation and field of view. Every composition was tailored to provide the VFX team with shots that looked and felt believable on-set and in-camera, to perfection.