Halo: Season 2 Case Study

Case Study

Halo: Season 2

Our VFX supervisor, Robin Hackl and Associate VFX Supervisor, Jenn Taylor, unravel the details of the visual effects work we contributed to season 2 of Paramount+’s original series, Halo. Find out the challenges and triumphs of bringing the iconic Halo universe to life.

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Paramount+’s hit series Halo returned for a thrilling second season, featuring the iconic Master Chief and his Spartan team facing an escalating war against the Covenant. Image Engine proudly contributed 158 visual effects shots, seamlessly transitioning from enhancing on-set plate photography to fully realized digital environments and characters.

Our team meticulously crafted over 20 unique space vehicles for intense battle scenes, complete with intricate damage and weapon effects. We also created full digital doubles for the Spartan crew and their weapons, along with a detailed hero asset of the iconic Halo ring. Throughout the process, we adhered to the established lore and aesthetic of the Halo franchise, ensuring a cohesive visual experience.

Our VFX supervisor, Robin Hackl and Associate VFX Supervisor, Jenn Taylor offer an insider’s perspective on the challenges and triumphs of bringing the iconic Halo universe to life.


Developing the Fleets

One of the unique challenges we faced was that many of the ships had not been seen outside of the game yet. We had to develop two fleets from game assets, translating the intricate and iconic designs of the game into a photorealistic style suitable for television. We had to ensure fidelity to the source material while adapting the designs to meet the visual and technical requirements of the show. Our team leveraged game models as a foundation, enhancing them with additional details and textures to create fully realized, cinematic spacefaring vessels.


Space Battles

Robin: Complex space battle scenes between the Covenant armada and the incoming UNSC battalion were set against the backdrop of a gas giant planet and space. This necessitated the creation of a full 3D asset for the planet itself given the full variety of camera angles we needed to view it from. This approach ensured consistency and realism from these various viewing angles, elevating the visual experience beyond traditional matte painting techniques. A careful collaboration between our assets and compositing teams was essential to its success.

Battling Spartans

Robin: Inside the Covenant Corvette, our digital prowess shone as we brought to life intense close combat sequences, complete with digital creatures, weapon effects, and explosive action. The integration of practical sets with digital elements seamlessly immersed viewers into the heart of the battle, showcasing our ability to blend reality with imagination. One hero shot of Master Chief in hand-to-hand combat with 4 Sangheilis was entirely digitally generated while maintaining the full in-camera performance and choreography.

Jenn: We were tasked with creating an interior battle between the Spartans, who had just breached the Corvette, a warship in the Covenant Navy, and the Sangehili Elites. The Sangheili are vicious, aggressive fighters so we wanted to portray their strength and power as they pushed back the Spartans through the Corvette, taking them out both with their Energy Swords, as well as firing Plasma weapons. We had to strike a balance between the Sangheili’s strength and the efficacy of the Spartan troops. The battle resulted in many casualties on both sides.

These sequences were dynamic, fun and challenging across departments. The animation team worked to find the style and movement pattern unique to these creatures, while the FX team had significant elements to create; from plasma explosions, smoke, blood, plasma bolts, and Needler smoke trails, to name a few. Our compositing team did a great job integrating these numerous elements into smokey environments, which resulted in the final product of an exciting battle sequence.


What was the most challenging part of this project?

Jenn: One of our biggest challenges on this project was the timeline in which to deliver.  With a tight schedule, we relied heavily on our internal teams to work concurrently with one another to define looks and build assets. Our teams were incredibly cooperative and innovative, allowing us to develop some new methods to improve efficiency and deliver quality work under restrictive timelines.

Are there any shots you found particularly memorable?

Robin: One standout moment was the epic collision of our hero Kai piloting the Covenant Corvette into the covenant assault carrier, requiring intricate FX work to simulate the impactful collision and resulting destruction. This culminated in a breathtaking 20-second fully digital shot capturing the aftermath of this monumental event.


Image Engine’s stunning visual effects shines brightly in Halo season 2, leaving audiences captivated and eager for the next chapter in the Spartans’ saga.

Our team’s talent and unwavering dedication are evident throughout our work in episodes 7 and 8, playing a pivotal role in delivering an unforgettable conclusion that leaves audiences on the edge of their seats and eagerly anticipating what lies ahead in season 3.

A heartfelt congratulations to our incredible crew who helped bring the adventures of Master Chief and Silver Team to life.