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Happy Valley: LED lifesaver

Posted on Feb 28, 2023 by Katie Kasperson

The Happy Valley production team used a virtual set to simulate the Yorkshire landscape and save valuable time

British crime drama Happy Valley is based and filmed primarily in West Yorkshire – specifically, Calder Valley. While shooting on location has obvious benefits, like preserving visual realism, it’s not always feasible. Certain scenes that would ordinarily require elaborate set-ups, stunts and clean-ups are often more easily done in a studio.

One particular scene posed a challenge to Johann Perry, cinematographer on the show’s third series. A car drives off the road and down a hill whilst the passengers fight, jumping out of the moving vehicle and slashing at each other’s throats. Instead of taking weeks, shooting the scene took mere minutes thanks to LED volume.

See how it was done:

The Happy Valley production team combined a 360-degree video of the driving course with the LED volume built to scale in their studio. This allowed them to not only preserve the show’s grittiness but also save precious time on the scene. The LED volume helped the actors choreograph their movements, tilting correctly when the car drove downhill and responding as if it was really happening.

Happy Valley Series 3 is now streaming on BBC iPlayer.

Stay tuned for our exclusive feature, found in the upcoming issue of Definition.

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