MTV
The Shannara Chronicles
Director Patrick Cummings / Cherokee Films, NZ
Agency MTV Networks

Case Study

Carbon teamed with director Patrick Cummings and MTV to create the distinctive and striking piece for the high fantasy television show, The Shannara Chronicles. From the mind of author Terry Brookes, The Shannara Chronicles is the biggest scripted series MTV has ever produced.


Creative Director Kieran Walsh joined the production team in Auckland New Zealand to supervise the three-day shoot, and oversaw the four-month project that followed.

MTV proposed Amberle (Poppy Drayton) falling through an infinity of crimson leaves—a reference to the Ellcrys tree from the original novels. We worked closely with Patrick to devise technical approaches from pre-production throughout, developing the look of the leaves and the overall environment and atmosphere.

In addition to motion control talent backplates, we did a comprehensive VFX shoot for leaf elements. This included a green screen wind tunnel with numerous fans to capture real leaf motion with air turbulence. We shot hi-res close-ups of leaves spinning in frame from many different angles, building up a library of leaf elements to populate throughout the shots and to give us motion reference for our CG team.

The kit spanned Softimage ICE, Mental Ray, Nuke, and Flame Premium. While the project presented fresh challenges, we always enjoy getting new boards and brainstorming with our team to see how to achieve something we’ve never attempted.