From digital environments created from 3D models and detailed matte paintings to digital crowds and 3D horses, MillTv goes for FX gold.

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In anticipation of this year’s Olympic Games, the BBC’s drama-documentary First Olympians looks back to the first games held in the early 5th Century BC. The programme – which aired on BBC 2, Discovery and BBC Worldwide in July – explores several themes.
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One uses feedback from the current UK pentathlon team to compare today’s sports equipment such as javelins and discusses with those of the past, another shows the scientific study of the skeleton of an early Olympic athlete, while a third takes the reader back to ancient Greece to show the drama of the early games.
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MillTv was brought onboard to bring this later section of the programme to life. This included digitally recreating the ancient site of Olympia, replicating crowds of thousands upon thousands of spectators, as well as creating a Ben Hur-style chariot race.
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First Olympians called for a large number of VFX shots, with the usual challenge of a TV programme’s budget and deadlines, says Will Cohen, visual-effects producer at MillTv. Careful planning and detailed meetings with producer Cameron Balbarnie were essential to ensure the delivery date was met on time. 
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“Cameron was as flexible as he could be with deadlines, which helped enormously. He also made himself available pretty much as needed and generally came in once or twice a week to answer questions, line up shots, and approve shots,” says Cohen. “It was an enormous pleasure to work with him.”
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