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Guillermo del Toro's Cabinet of Curiosities

Guillermo del Toro
VFX Supervsor
Divyansh Mittal

Master of horror, Guillermo Del Toro, brings to audiences an array of twisted nightmares and violent delights in his new anthology series, Cabinet of Curiosities

The four-day streaming premiered on Netflix boasting an impressive line-up behind the camera, with the collection of sinister stories being told by some of today’s most revered horror creators. Cabinet of Curiosities is MPC’s ninth collaboration with Oscar©-winning director Guillermo Del Toro, with previous titles including Nightmare Alley, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, and The Shape of Water.

The global MPC team, led by VFX Supervisor Divyansh Mittal, VFX Producers Ryan MacDuff, and Anand Ramesh, and CG Supervisor David Roby, crafted a collection of gruesome creatures and horrifying scenes. Over the span of 11 months, nearly 200 artists worked across the episodes ‘Lot 36’, directed by Guillermo Navarro, and ‘Dreams in the Witch House,’, directed by Catherine Hardwicke. With MPC’s work being considerably creature-focused, the team was charged with creating believable and physically practical creatures in VFX. “We needed to make both the most horrible and beautiful-looking scenes at the same time,” explains Divyansh.

One peculiar character was ‘Jenkins’ – a hasty rat with a human face played by DJ Qualls. The preliminary stages of the character creation required studying the anatomy and locomotion of rats – studying the nuances in detail, before building upon traditional motions with frantic and nervous personality traits that Jenkins portrays. The team developed a custom set-up to fuse together the CG and live-action facial performances of DJ Qualls, before adding custom hair and skin simulations as a final pass. “Making the creature was only half of it. Creating his distinct personality was something we aimed for from the very beginning,” adds Anand. “The team did an amazing job with the animation of Jenkins – respecting the rat’s physical nature but still being able to bring the nuances of Jenkins’ human-like nature to life.”

The team was also tasked with developing a faceless creature, with over 70 tentacles growing out of a human body. From the outset, it was important to represent the control of the tentacles accurately, how they would behave, their movements in synchrony, and how they would be portrayed as their own living entity. “Their movements were thoughtful and intentional, adds Divyansh. “We carefully crafted the action on each shot to tell the story, which is why we had to hand-animate many of the tentacles to make this unique faceless creature come alive.”

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