Floating bodies in a vast sea of blue may not be particularly inviting, but it sets the scene of the title sequence by Method Studios for new (and rather dark) BBC drama series Taboo. 

Taboo is based on a story written by Tom Hardy, who has a hand in directing it and also plays the star of the show. Created by his father Chips Hardy and Steven Knight, with big names such as Ridley Scott and Kate Crowe involved, the new series first screened on January 7 in the UK.

Being described as the new Poldark, Taboo follows the angsty narrative of adventurer James Delaney who returns to England after 12 years in Africa to attend the funeral of his dead father. Taboo is set in 1814 when the East India Company is in control. James brings back 14 stolen diamonds as the war with the US is nearing its end.

 

Establishing the criminal nuance to the series, the opening titles involve people and objects eerily bobbing upside down in a dimly lit body of water – a “creepy underwater waltz” as described by the international VFX group. 

The visualisation, paired with relatively creepy music, makes for a mysterious and unnerving experience, although it remains to be seen if the series lives up to this tone. 

Tom Hardy and the production team shot and created a rough cut of a sequence full underwater, to which Method Studios director Johnny Likens applied his creative eye.

 

Footage shot from different angles has been blended in varying lighting conditions, with Method Studios composing shots for distinct effect and adding CG bubbles to create transitions. 

Although most of the sequence was captured in camera, Johnny also added CG elements to appear as if they were filmed underwater. Company 3 colourist Rob Sciarratta provided the colour grade to finalise the look.

 

Taboo will be an eight-part series played out on BBC One and on FX for US audiences.

Method Studios has been busy with other stunning VFX performances. It’s contributed to more than one VFX Oscar nominated film, including Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Doctor Strange. See our full VFX Oscar nominees breakdown list here. Also check out the studio’s monumental work in epic documentary Voyage of Time.