VFX house delivered 65 shots over three episodes for final series


Goodbye Kansas Studios provided 65 VFX shots over three episodes for Locke & Key’s third and final series.

The Netflix show is based on the comic book of the same name, and in the final series the Locke family uncovers more magic within Keyhouse, while a new threat – the most dangerous one yet – looms in Matheson with plans of his own for the keys. 

VFX supervisor Jason M. Halverson explained that the third season brought new challenges for Goodbye Kansas: “For our work on the third season, we had a scope of work which included three key sequences to tackle. We used pretty much everything in the toolbox for this series: Maya, Houdini, Nuke, 3DEqualiser, and more. The project was extensive, from modelling, texturing, lighting, and rendering, to rigging and compositing.”

One of the main sequences delivered by Goodbye Kansas involved effects for a ‘Creation Key’, one of the many magical keys that are hidden within Keyhouse Manor. The Creation Key is a newly-created key unique to the Netflix adaptation which does not appear in the original comics, and has its first appearance in the final season. Halverson said: “The Creation Key is used by the Locke siblings to draw items that they need onto a surface. This key’s power allows any surface to magically transform into whatever is drawn onto it.

“In terms of our VFX work, the Creation Key sequences involved two phases. Firstly, we had to recreate these real-world objects (i.e., the desired items) in 3D. We had a few objects to create: there was a motorcycle, a door which is used to escape into a pub, and also the latch to lock that door after they go through it.


“Then we had to develop the effects in which the original surface transitions into a new object. For the motorcycle, this was a massive transformation, because the effect transitioned from being a surface made of asphalt into an object made of chrome, painted metal, and leather.”

Keyhouse Manor is set within large grounds, comprised of exterior buildings and garden areas. Within the property is a wellhouse, located above one of the magical doors, as well as a section of flooded underground catacombs. In series three, the wellhouse becomes the scene of a battle between one of the Locke siblings, Gideon, and an excavator arm controlled by puppeteers.

Halverson revealed: “For this battle, our aim was to really sell the struggle between man and machine. The initial task was to design a mechanical arm for the excavator. The concept art was delivered by our art department at Goodbye Kansas. It had to look believable, as if it was genuinely able to push Gideon inside the wellhouse.”

The design was based on bucket-style excavators, but it had to have a claw at the end that would grip Gideon and try to force him inside the wellhouse. Halverson added: “This doesn’t really exist in the real world, so although the design and animation of it had to seem real, we had no real-world reference to work from.”

Aside from the concept art for the mechanical arm, the team also had to paint out the on-set puppeteers that held the practical claw around Gideon’s body. To round off the sequence, Goodbye Kansas had to model, paint, animate, and composite the arm to sit realistically within the scene.