Gripping promo for SKY Original Gangs of London Season 2

UNIT were approached by SKY Creative to create a gripping promo for Gangs of London, Season 2.

The brief was to create a cityscape of chess pieces as London-inspired buildings to illustrate the theme of hierarchy, mirroring the narrative of the show. Each of the characters were envisioned to be placed on top of these skyscrapers; a landscape we were tasked to create along with an intimidating and ominous blood-red sky.

UNIT had to develop the look and feel of the city and also meticulously design each building from the ground up, with a comment from the client always front of mind: “the London-inspired buildings need to look like buildings first, and chess pieces upon second glance”.

Our 3D artists were split into two separate teams to tackle the job of modelling assets. The rooftop geometry was created in Maya allowing us to adapt every detail depending on our camera placement. This was then textured with Substance Painter, before being shaded in Houdini. However, the buildings themselves were procedurally modelled inside Houdini. This meant that if the overall silhouette changed, we were able to automatically generate all of the interior detail, interior lighting and exterior props. This allowed us to review close-to-final looking models within a day’s turnaround from feedback. Once the assets were complete and we advanced to shot rendering, we pushed everything through our cutting-edge USD pipeline in Redshift for Houdini. 

The sole live action element was of the talent against a green screen, with everything else  created digitally. Our 2D team utilised Nuke to carefully incorporate the live action with the 3D buildings, whilst adding further smoke to enhance the moods of our shot. The ominous blood-red sky was animated entirely in 2D, which gradually becomes darker and more dramatic, with frequent lightning strikes illuminating the menacing atmosphere.

Due to the magnitude of the project, clear communication between UNIT and SKY Creative were key to its success. CG Supervisor Sid Harrington-Odedra writes:

“Right from the very start of this job, the SKY Creative team and UNIT were on exactly the same page, which made this project all the more fun to do! We knew what was creatively at the core of this spot and carried that all the way through our production process, from initial pencil drawings right through to adding the finishing touches in Colour Grading.

The complexity of creating an entirely CG world for these spots was no small task. Everything needed to be changeable, flexible and agile. We designed a system entirely in USD which meant that a very small number of artists could manage this incredibly complex project. Anything could be updated anywhere, any time and be populated across shots immediately. It’s this workflow that allowed us to iterate at incredible speed, respond to feedback quickly and get new pictures in front of our clients.”

It’s always a pleasure to team up with SKY Creative, with the collaborative element of this project a key to its success.

The campaign will run across TV, online, socials, out-of-home and press. 


Client: SKY Creative
Title: Gangs of London

Agency: Sky Creative
Agency Producer: Poppy Hamilton / Jen Moorhead
Creatives: Simon Corkin / Celine-Christine Reynaud / Will McMullan
Producer: Poppy Hamilton / Jen Moorhead


VFX Supervisors: Sid Harrington-Odedra & Jonathan Box
3D: Adem Suleyman, William Davies, Ola Madsen & Richard Nelson
VFX Artists: Fraser Cleland, Leire Eatock & Keith Wallis
CG Supervisor: Sid Harrington-Odedra
Concept, Design & Animation: Nathan McKenna
Colour: Denny CooperVFX Producer: Sarah Antrobus