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Paddington 2 

SFX & Specialist Engineering

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Artem was very excited to be asked to provide the Special Effects and Specialist Engineering for feature film, Paddington 2.

Project Breakdown 

Produced by David Heyman (Harry Potter films, Gravity) and directed by Paul King (Paddington, Bunny and the Bull) Paddington 2 is an action-packed family film, loaded with physical comedy and featuring a stellar cast of familiar faces - such as Hugh Grant, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent and Hugh Bonneville.

This film was a great opportunity for Artem's SFX Supervisor, Mike Kelt, and our technicians to showcase the whole range of their skills and experience, with production requirements ranging from marmalade sandwiches and fairground makes through to complex mechanical rigs. 

Artem also had a team of dedicated technicians working on the day-to-day requirements of the film such as smoke and atmospherics, and on manipulating the objects that an imaginary Paddington interacted with during the filming process. These included lightweight props, an extendable ladder and Paddington’s iconic marmalade sandwiches. Paddington was added to the scenes in post-production after the filming had been completed.

The majority of the items built at Artem’s West London workshops were required for the movie’s prison, fairground and climactic train chase scenes. Our technicians and model-makers constructed oversize items such as industrial washing machines, laundry chutes and an enormous pile of washing which added to the grim surroundings of a Victorian prison. The escape sequence required a large hot air balloon which was completely handmade from the basket to the patchwork canopy. This was suspended from a crane when used outside and from the studio roof for other shots. Artem also made a replica steam powered pipe organ for the fairground. With gilding, moving instruments, beautiful carved figures and over five hundred lights, it was truly magnificent.

The climax of the film was a frantic train chase which required the carriages to move forwards and backwards, as well as move towards and apart from each other as the actors and stunt performers ran, jumped and fought on and between them. For this, Artem designed five mobile platforms with large electric motors which were controlled by a bi-directional radio link. The platforms were fabricated and fully tested at Artem’s workshop and then transported to Leavesden Studios in London for filming. 

For ease and flexibility of filming the construction department built each carriage differently on each side so they could be could be rotated around their axis, or their position changed to represent a different section of the train. The Artem team then needed to ensure that each platform could be rotated with the carriage mounted on it, or completely repositioned in the line of carriages as the filming process dictated. Each carriage and platform weighed approximately six tonnes and turning and repositioning them was accomplished quickly and safely by an ingenious removable pivot and the modular and flexible control system.

Fairground Organ

Fairground Organ

Hot air balloon fabric

Hot air balloon basket attached to crane on set

Small scale model of the Victorian prison

Spray painting the giant washing machines

Sculpting the figurines for the fairground organ

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It was great to work with Artem to produce the SFX for Paddington 2. They built a series of the key models, our complex mechanical train rig and all the onset effects. It was a demanding production which Mike and his team performed with good humour and the results speak for themselves!

Tim Wellspring

Line Producer "Paddington 2"

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