A Breakdown of the White Deer CGI From the Dexter: New Blood Season Premiere! [Video]

They absolutely nailed it!

Framestore | Showtime

In 2021, the New York studio of Framestore, the famous visual effects company, worked on several key sequences for Dexter: New Blood, and the most significant one was for episode one titled "Cold Snap". The biggest challenge for the team was to create the albino buck, which was a key symbol for our favorite serial killer's new life, as he was living away from his good-old killing ways. Read a breakdown of the scene from the CGI company and watch cool video right below!

via Framestore: One of the more challenging aspects of this project was to create a performance that felt realistic and authentic within such an intense scene. The importance of eye contact, the close proximity and relative stillness of the shots meant that the animators had to pay particularly close attention to the subtleties and tiny details that often go unnoticed in broader, more athletic movements.

“Our animation team focused on keeping all movements of our deer small, nuanced and natural while supporting the actor’s emotions, which added to the scene instead of stealing the show,” said John Montefusco, Framestore CG Supervisor.


From placing a real deer captured in-camera onto plates, to incorporating the CG version of the butchered deer into the scene, Framestore’s effects artists replaced and sometimes augmented a practical model. The team also played a strong supporting role to the deer with delicate snow simulations that compressed and broke the snow where the deer’s feet fell, while taking a more heroic role with a number of blood effects that not only had to interact with fur but also seep naturally through the snow. This required the accurate modeling of complicated snowy topography, including melting characteristics for the fluid simulations to interact with.

“One of the pleasures of making the white buck for Dexter was in recreating a character that has been used in storytelling throughout history,” said Framestore VFX Supervisor, Nick Tanner. “The white deer has been a symbol of innocence and purity, an initiator of quests, an otherworldly messenger and a curse to those who kill it within various stories for hundreds of years. That these ideas seemed to match so well to the events that play out through the entire season provided great inspiration to the design and animation of the creature.”

Framestore also designed and executed the creation of the ‘Dark Passenger,’ a visual representation of the dark aspects of Dexter’s personality. The character appears in just a single shot, (during the dream sequence in episode 1) but directly interacts with another character (Debra Morgan) submerged in water, making for an extremely complex setup. The creative brief required the character to be recognizably human, but without clear features – distinctly indistinct. The result was a combination of fluid and solid Houdini simulations based on a live action performance. These elements were then further treated, distorted, diffused and disguised in the compositing process. 


“As it was just one shot, we were able to take rare pleasure in frame-by-frame painting on top of the CG element to further augment the character’s nebulous nature, then blend it with the original water in the plate,” said Tanner.

Watch below an impressive video with the four stages of creating the buck!

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