The decrepit cityscape of Black Knight was painstakingly recreated using cutting-edge visual effects technology, from dust particles to ruined landmarks. The Korean series, which will premiere on May 12, will transport viewers to Seoul, where oxygen is scarce due to severe air pollution.
Black Knight, written and directed by Cho Ui-seok, is set in a future Korea reeling from the effects of a comet strike, with a brutal social hierarchy determining who has access to resources for survival.
Deliverymen known as “knights” play an essential role in keeping people alive in this harsh wasteland by delivering parcels of oxygen and other necessities. Former refugee 5-8, played by Kim Woo-bin, accepts this position and recruits others from the lowest rungs of society to assist him in overthrowing the hierarchy.
Westworld, one of Korea’s leading visual effects studios, was responsible for the depiction of a desolate Seoul, which features decayed landmarks such as the N Seoul Tower, the Hangang Bridge, and Gangnam Street.
“The main road in Gangnam required the most dedication and hard work. It’ll be particularly fascinating for viewers to compare the real-life intersection with what has been recreated on screen through VFX,” says Westworld VFX Supervisor Lee Byung Ju.
During post-production, Westworld’s team of about 180 artists spent over ten months painstakingly creating the apocalyptic world of Black Knight, down to every dust particle to depict how outdoor activities were impossible without an oxygen mask.
The team collected data on yellow dust and sandstorms in Mongolia and China to investigate how to visually represent these weather events, and filmed source footage of the Bayanzag cliffs and Khongoryn Els dunes in the Gobi Desert as a textural reference for deserts composed of hard rocks or fine sand.
Since 2019, Netflix has collaborated with Westworld, and several innovative VFX techniques pioneered by Westworld have been featured in some of Netflix’s most popular Korean series.
Sweet Home introduced a new chapter in the Korean creature genre, The Silent Sea depicted the moon and space powerfully and realistically, All of Us Are Dead exemplified young adult zombie survival, and the world-famous Squid Game was known for its vivid colors.
“We have a win-win relationship with Westworld built on trust over the years,” says Sunny Park, Director of VFX & Virtual Production at Netflix. “With Black Knight, we continue to push the boundaries of creativity and technology as we work together to craft great Korean content that will transcend cultures and borders.”
‘Black Knight’ will be available exclusively on Netflix beginning May 12, 2023.