How VFX Artists Created One of Westworld's Most Gruesome Deaths

Image: Vimeo

It’s no easy task ranking the grisly deaths in Westworld; there’s a steady stream of characters who find themselves at the wrong end of a knife, sword, or six-shooter. But actor Masaru Shinozuka’s Shogun character surely had one of the most shocking exits during season two, requiring extensive practical and digital effects to bring his gruesome death to life.


Back in June we got a look at how some old-school practical effects were used to show the aftermath of Rinko Kikuchi’s character, Akane, slicing off the top of the Shogun’s head, using a fake but highly-detailed body double to reveal what was left of the character from the lower jaw down.

But the creative forces behind Westworld wanted to show more than just the aftermath of the Shogun’s death, and that’s where a Swedish visual effects studio called Important Looking Pirates stepped in to help. They created a photorealistic digital double of Shinozuka that could show the process of his head being sliced in two by a similarly computer-generated blade. The actor was in no physical danger on set; instead it was the fans watching at home who had to suffer through his graphic demise.

[h/t Art of VFX]


There is some truly mind-blowing stuff here, but it’s too bad the entire video is less than three minutes long and that there is absolutely zero voice-over to explain in detail what we are seeing. It also goes by too fast.

I just watched Westworld season one on DVD and there are very few extras and zero audio commentaries for the episodes. Contrast that with Game of Thrones season seven which had a audio commentary (or two!) for every single episode in addition to documentaries. This is interesting because both shows are made by HBO. The Westworld DVDs seem very bare-bones in comparison.