Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a 2016 American dark fantasy film directed by Tim Burton and written by Jane Goldman, based on the 2011 novel of the same name by Ransom Riggs. The film stars Eva Green, Asa Butterfield, Chris O’Dowd, Allison Janney, Rupert Everett, Terence Stamp, Ella Purnell with Judi Dench and Samuel L. Jackson. The film backed the visual effects societies’ award for “Outstanding Visual Effects in a Photoreal Feature”.
The stop motion work in that scene has indeed inspired several filmmakers to craft their own fantastical fight scenes, and the latest is Tim Burton with his climactic skeleton versus hollowgasts battle in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. The film had marvelous VFX with extraordinary shots that shook the audience to the very core.
In the film, the ‘peculiar’ children have raised a sunken cruise ship. The skeletons of the dead passengers and crew—submerged underwater for 70 years—emerge to fight a raft of invisible monsters called hollowgasts at Blackpool Pier amidst the amusement rides there. Visual effects studio Double Negative, under production VFX supervisor Frazer Churchill, brought the skeleton sequence to life, at first attempting to create a stop motion Harryhausen-inspired look, but ultimately switching to a more modern animation style.
Double Negative was charged with designing the look of the skeletons. The skeleton’s clothes were crafted to appear rotten and covered in barnacles, and they fight with whatever props they have found in the dining room or on the decks of the cruise ship. Principal photography for the skeleton sequence was filmed at Longcross Studios in the U.K., based on previs by The Third Floor. There were no costumed skeletons or hollowgasts on set, so stand-ins and stunt performers wearing gray tracking suits or blue screen suits were utilized for the shoot.
Stunt performers wore gray tracking markered suits as stand-ins for the skeletons. The purpose of the gray tracking suits for the skeleton performers was for video reference only, with motion capture shot later. The compositing challenges continued for the entire environment. Although blue screens had been employed at the Longcross Studios, they only went up so far and Double Negative had to clean up a tree line and background structures, in addition to the complex paint and rotoscoping work for the plates.