Break+Enter served as principal visual effects provider for The Pentaverate, the new Netflix comedy series created by and starring Mike Myers. The studio was involved in the project from pre-production, with visual effects supervisor Taylor Tulip-Close leading the team in designing and executing scores of complex visuals for the series about an unlikely Canadian journalist who finds himself embroiled in a mission to uncover the truth and just possibly save the world himself.
Much of Break+Enter’s work involved split-screen effects for scenes in which Myers, who plays eight characters, appears multiple times. Working in tandem with Myers, series director Tim Kirkby and other members of the production team, the studio developed a variety of techniques for pulling off the clever illusions.
“In some instances, four or five Mike M
eyers appear in one shot,” recalls Tulip-Close. “We used blue screen and motion control to record passes with Mike playing different characters and comped them together in post.”
Tulip-Close adds that the motion control passes had to be precisely planned and executed to make efficient use of Myers’ time on set.
“Most of Mike’s characters had prosthetics, which meant he could spend four hours or more in makeup,” he notes. “As a result, he would shoot for two or three weeks as one character before changing. We had to mark camera positions carefully so we could come back three weeks later and shoot the next character.”
The studio also contributed to scenes set inside the Pentaverate’s headquarters, a sprawling structure located beneath Manhattan’s Hudson Yards complex. Artists created full computer graphics sets and set extensions representing a giant atrium where the society’s brain trust meets, as well as a network of bridges used to access it.
Other effects included a CG helicopter used in a landing sequence on the structure’s roof.
Break+Enter’s most expansive work was devoted to a scene near the climax of the series’ final episode when Ken Scarborough is absorbed into a supercomputer.
“We developed a concept for the effect where Ken is caught in a waterfall of light and wrapped in its tendrils,” Tulip-Close explains. “He basically gives himself up to it. We executed it with effects done in a procedural way. That gave us the flexibility to control how it unfolds so that it integrated well with the live action and produced the effect Mike and Tim wanted.”
The over-the-top, theatrical nature of many of the visuals made it a fun, if challenging, project for the effects team. “It was a true collaborative effort,” Tulip-Close says. “We spoke with the production team daily about how the work was evolving. And the results look great and are very funny. It’s vintage Mike Myers.”
The Pentaverate is now streaming on Netflix.