'Stranger Things' VFX Supervisor Says One Scene Took Over Two Years to Create – Collider

The Upside Down, as they say, was not built in a day.
Following the Netflix series Stranger Things' epic Season 4 finale, Collider's Samantha Coley sat down to interview the Rodeo FX's VFX Supervisor, Julien Hery on all things visual effects. In the fourth season, the Duffer Brothers take their fans even deeper into the expansive Upside Down, with ambitious shots of the wicked terrain never before seen. According to Hery, some of those shots in question took nearly a full two years to complete.
As Stranger Things has progressed, so too has the world-building. From the neighborhoods of Hawkins, Indiana first introduced to fans in 2016, to the shadowy Upside Down, each season's visual effects have become more ambitious and pose threats on a much bigger scale. Because of the massive scale of the Mind-Flayer's reach, the time between seasons went from just over one year between Season 1 and 2 to over a year and a half between 2 and 3. After the third season's premiere, Stranger Things Season 4 Volume 1 didn't return — due in some part to the pandemic — until a little over two and a half years later. The large gap of time in between gave Hery and his VFX team ample time to ramp up those nightmarish effects.
According to Hery, Season 4 required plenty of Vecna (Jamie Campbell Bower) shots, as well as several shots of the Creel House, given that Vecna turned out to be the main villain of the entire series. The Creel House became a pinnacle of the season when fans found out that it was directly tied to the origins of the fearsome Vecna and his lurid past. A good portion of the season takes place in and outside the manor, both in present-day Hawkins and the Upside Down, and with so much time allotted to the team, Hery says they utilized the extra minutes (nearly two and a half years worth) to bring one particular shot to the screen:
"Actually, there’s a fun fact, we started before the pandemic on this show, we started to work on it more than two years ago. We actually started to develop a few looks, started to work on the assets before the pandemic. And when it stopped, we kept working on one or two shots. One is a flyover of Hawkins — to follow the bats over Hawkins, and then you land onto the Creel House. And this shot took us almost a year and half or two years of making it happen, changing the animation, and there was plenty of time, so we took like such a long time to develop that shot. So it was pretty cool."
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In the finished product, fans saw a Demobat's-eye-view of the dark and dismal Upside Down, now fully forming into a near-perfect replica of Hawkins. When fans see the town, the lake, and the forests around Hawkins decaying in Vecna's alternate dimension, they are seeing two years' worth of hard work put in by an exceptional team of visual effects experts, led by Hery. Other notable credits Hery is known for include his Emmy-nominated work for Disney+'s MCU miniseries WandaVision and HBO's Game of Thrones renowned episode "Battle of the Bastards," as well as Loki, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and Eric Kripke's The Boys.
To see Hery's work, all four seasons of Stranger Things are available to stream on Netflix. You can also check out shots from the scene that took nearly two years in the official Season 4 trailer below, starting at the two-minute mark:
Tamera Jones is a TV/Movie News Writer for Collider. When she isn’t reading or eating pasta she’s fangirling over all things horror, the MCU and her own cats.
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