Netflix’s The Liberator has a unique visual style, but is it real live-action footage from actors, the latest CGI technology or traditional animation?

Netflix has a vast catalogue of both World War II and animated content available for viewers to enjoy.

However, there may not be a title that blends the two together quite like the streaming platform’s latest original series, ‘The Liberator’.

The Liberator tells an incredible true story of US Army officer Felix Sparks and his unit, the 3rd Battalion of the 157th Infantry Regiment of the 45th Division, who spent an incredible 500 days in combat during WW2.

Whilst the story of The Liberator is an outstanding one, the visual style and special effects used in the Netflix series are also causing a stir online.

So, what is The Liberator’s visual style and how was this outstanding appearance created?

Is The Liberator animated or live-action?

  • Netflix’s The Liberator is actually a hybrid of the latest live-action filming techniques and a new animation style called ‘Trioscope’.

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The Liberator was announced all the way back in 2013 and was initially planned to be an 8-episode live-action series produced by A+E Studios for the History Channel.

However, after the studio began scouting locations, wardrobe and equipment that included real WW2 tanks, it quickly became apparent that the series was going to be too expensive.

Head of A+E Studios Barry Jossen explained to Variety that production would take 14 months and each hour would cost nearly $15 million to film.

“While there was this passion to make the project, no one was willing to commit to $100 to $150 million to make it for History.” – Barry Jossen, via Variety.

This was the point that the decision was made to transform The Liberator into a shorter and cheaper, 4-episode animated series for Netflix that used Trioscope technology.

“We’re huge fans of anime and animation from all over the world, particularly in Asia where animation is seen as more of a medium and it can therefore be used in all kinds of different genres.” – Executive producer and Trioscope co-founder L.C. Crowley, via Variety.

What is Trioscope animation?

Trioscope is a type of enhanced hybrid animation that blends computer-generated 3D environments with live-action footage and traditional 2D animation.

The technique was created by the School of Humans animation studio in Atlanta and The Liberator will be the first large-scale demonstration of its potential within modern filmmaking.

“Trioscope is an evolved iteration of animated imagery created by a new patent-pending technology and innovative platform that makes it possible to achieve a vivid 3D graphic novel look.” – School of Humans animation studio.

Trioscope vs Rotoscope animation…

The new Trioscope technique is thought of as the next evolution of traditional rotoscope animation.

As Brandon Barr, the chief content officer at Trioscope explains, “the rotoscope process, which I think people are more familiar with, uses live-action footage and then animators hand draw over every single frame.”

However, Trioscope animation doesn’t use hand-drawn images and instead blends the live-action footage of actors into an already-rendered CGI world.

Barr says that because of this use of hybrid animation “there’s less of that interpretation and sort of wobbling hairline and it allows the audience to immerse themselves more deeply in the story.”

By Tom Llewellyn – [email protected]

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