In late May 2012 Painting Practice VFX Supervisor, Justin Hutchinson- Chatburn, was approached by the production team responsible for ITV’s new period drama Mr. Selfridge, and asked whether he and the team at Painting Practice were up to the the task of bringing Oxford Street and Selfridges back into the 1900’s – Naturally the answer was a resounding yes!

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Mr. Selfridge Production designer, Rob Harris, had already begun construction on the interior of the store and was about to embark on the exterior set build. The exterior set comprised of a small section of the store that gave enough room to accommodate medium and close up shots of actors outside the store, but for wider shots of the street producer Chrissy Skinns made the decision to employ VFX and matte painting.

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The location itself provided the production with it’s own set of contraints given that it was extremely  difficult to capture a satifactory wide shot of the store. However Justin chose to use this to an advantage by employing a more ‘sleight of hand’ approach by delivering brief glimpses of the store and the surrounding area, delivering an altogether more convincing sense of scale, that equally made sure the audience’s attention remained on the characters.

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Justin worked closely with each director in order to get the most out of both the real set and the virtual one, and from the onset the decision was made to keep the camera ‘on the move’ wherever possible in order to make the whole street feel a lot more ‘real’. Practically every shot had to be match moved and camera tracked with the matte paintings being applied using 3D camera projection in both Nuke and Cinema 4D. A variety of lighting scenarios were also employed using HDRI information captured on set.

As principle vendor Painting Practice delivered all of the major VFX shots for Mr.Selfridge, and not all of them included set extension, a variety of composites and clean ups all added to over 40 shots covering the entires series.

On behalf of everyone involved at Painting Practice we would like to extend our thanks and best wishes to the Production team and ITV Studios for involving us in this fantastic show.

Watch Mr. Selfridge now on ITV Sundays 9pm