How one of Westworld's most brutal scenes was created using VFX

A VFX breakdown of a pivotal moment from Westworld's latest finale that nails the fine art of portraying realistic injuries without tipping the scales.

This article contains spoilers for the second season finale of Westworld.

Philosophical cowboy sci-fi Westworld recently completed its second season with a climactic face-off between bad guy The Man in Black (Ed Harris) and AI host Dolores Abernathy (Evan Rachel Wood) being one particular highlight.

The showdown ends with one of The Man in Black's hands getting blown off, calling for the efforts of visual effects to conjure up a convincing and bloody-looking stump. Never an easy challenge, as showcasing detailed human mutilation via 'invisible' VFX is always a tricky endeavour.

Taking on the task was Vancouver studio CVD VFX, whose visual breakdown above shows how they augmented on-set footage to bring the gory moment to life in excruciating and impressively lifelike detail.

The actor's fingers were wrapped in blue in the original shot, and CVD VFX went to work removing those digits and replacing them with animated stubs, complete with the visceral details of protruding bone and glistening blood.

The team used special effects makeup for reference on both blood and lighting, and were able to seamlessly incorporate the practical and digital elements. Such kind of visual effects work needs to be impactful without being OTT and distracting from the scene, and you'd agree with us that the final result works well. 

CVD’s work on Westworld marks another successful collaboration with the show’s VFX supervisor, Jay Worth, who the team previously worked with on Syfy’s The Magicians and Fox’s Wayward Pines

Chris van Dyck, founder of CVD VFX comments: “We love working with Jay and the sequence is just so impactful. This was my favourite sequence, as we managed to turn it around from concept to final in roughly 2 weeks. It's always cool to see the team collaborating on that level and I'm really happy with how it all looks.”

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