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Vanity Fair's historic visual effects

Check out how modern technology re-created the historic Battle of Waterloo.

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Richard Trenholm
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1 of 28 ITV/Amazon

Vanity Fair

You might not expect a period drama to have lots of digital effects (aka computer-generated imagery). But ITV and Amazon's Vanity Fair is just one of the TV shows filled with cutting-edge CGI. Check out these before-and-after shots to see how effects company Technicolor used digital trickery to make history.

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2 of 28 Robert Viglasky/ITV/Amazon

Vanity Fair

This is the sort of thing you'd expect from a period drama: bonnets, carriages, winsome glances. But Vanity Fair features around 350 shots enhanced with digital trickery.

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Vanity Fair

Let's start with the basics. This is what London's skyline looks like today...

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Vanity Fair

...and here's what happens when Technicolor's digital artists roll the shot back to Victorian times.

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Vanity Fair

Here we see green screens, which are used to replace the background.

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Vanity Fair

The technicians digitally add more soldiers and a huge ship.

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7 of 28 Robert Viglasky/ITV/Amazon

Vanity Fair

Like classic period dramas of the past, this new version of Vanity Fair takes advantage of Britain's historic and leafy locations.

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Vanity Fair

Sections of locations could be cut out, or rotoscoped, to combine them with other shots.

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Vanity Fair

Locations could be completely transformed by visual effects.

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Vanity Fair

Other changes are more subtle...

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Vanity Fair

...like this small tweak to make the location match the vision of the filmmakers.

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Vanity Fair

Each visual effect starts with an unaltered shot filmed on location, known as a plate...

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Vanity Fair

...to which digital elements like this hot air balloon and fireworks are added afterward.

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14 of 28 Robert Viglasky/ITV/Amazon

Vanity Fair

Visual effects were used to bring to life the hedonistic, hard-partying side of historical London.

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15 of 28 Robert Viglasky/ITV/Amazon

Vanity Fair

The actors walked through the location in one steadicam shot, to which visual effects artists added teeming crowds to make the party seem even more intense.

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16 of 28 Robert Viglasky/ITV/Amazon

Vanity Fair

The fun and games don't last for the soldiers of Vanity Fair, who are soon to face the horrors of the Battle of Waterloo -- re-created with the help of digital effects.

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Vanity Fair

The filmmakers went onto a huge location to restage the famous battle, filming with extras in period costume and utilising tools from pyrotechnics to flying drone cameras.

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Vanity Fair

Here we see how just a handful of real actors can become...

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Vanity Fair

...a vast battle scene.

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Vanity Fair

Extras are filmed on location, ready to be combined with other elements...

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Vanity Fair

...such as the charging enemy.

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Vanity Fair

Filming things for real gives the digital artists important reference... 

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...so their work blends with the real footage.

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After a plate is photographed at the location, the digital artists employ specialised software...

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...to simulate natural phenomena like smoke and flame, with other software algorithmically generating crowds of digital soldiers.

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Vanity Fair

Even when you'd barely notice, many shots are enhanced...

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...to give extra atmosphere and impact to the story.

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28 of 28 Robert Viglasky/ITV/Amazon

Vanity Fair

Vanity Far debuts on ITV in the UK on 2 September, and Amazon elsewhere in the world.

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