IN-HOUSE VFX 

My first in house team, Friday13th, the series.

We were just kids, but were nominated for an Emmy.

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Project Blue Book In House VFX Artists

Most recent in house team, with A level talent from the biggest facilities in town.

Project Blue Book. 

I've been using high-end vendors combined with in house VFX teams for many years, and believe it gives production the best look for a given budget.  No one ever says they have enough money, no matter how small or large their production, so this approach puts the most money on the screen.

 

My production hardened approach puts a team, similar to the Art Dept, directly into the production office where we are available to the creatives at any time, running like a small vendor, with 5 to 50 artists.  We also work off-site when required.

I supply the latest hardware, legal top tier software, production pipeline and a 30 + TB stock library. I have a huge freelance pool of talented and experienced artists to recruit, who have worked at the largest facilities and some who have worked with me for over a decade and a half.

Being part of production and setting up in house teams is where I am happiest, and therefore where I believe I bring the most value.

Slither In House VFX Artists

Above :

Artist room on Project BlueBook.

Artist review on Slither, a feature with director James Gunn ( Guardian's of the Galaxy ).

Artist reviews on The Hole, directed by Joe Dante. All VFX were executed in Stereo / 3D - which I really enjoyed.

Below :

Machine room on The Island.

Having John's team  "in-house" was a huge success. We saved a significant amount of money; more importantly, we were able to see renderings, rough ups, etc. and give notes immediately, thereby stream-lining the process and making it much more efficient.  In addition, John often identified production issues tangential to his own department, which helped us avoid some expensive mistakes.  He not only cares about his work, but the production, as a whole. 

Lastly, and this is not unimportant, John is a joy to work with.  His wit, eagerness to work hard, and collaborative instincts helped us all get through a very tough shooting schedule.  I cannot recommend John highly enough.  

We consider every episode like a mini-movie and John has been able to provide us with the high end look we love. This is accomplished through his efficient in-house team of VFX Artists who only require that our most ambitious shots/sequences be aided though the use of outside VFX vendors, which he selects. It's John's creativity, deep VFX knowledge, inquisitive and enjoyable personality ( working closely with and DP and Production Designer ) and using smart planning, putting time and preparation ahead of money, which has made all of this possible.

Details

We can scale to 25 workstations. Normally senior artists get a full-time machine ( or bring their own ) while intermediate and junior artists work morning or evening shifts * allowing for teams of up to 50 artists.

I have an international Rolodex of freelancers whom we use for more specialized work - smoke and water simulations, advanced model rigging and VFX animation. 

We run Nuke, Maya and Houdini, rendering on Redshift.  All licenses are current and the workstations are 1-3 years old. Large M.2 drives are installed on 2D machines for those who like to work locally.

We run a fibre / 10GigE network to all 2D machines, GigE to 3D and the render farm. Files are stored on a local machine with off-site backups and daily script backups for everything.

Render farm is 20 machines, but we run Deadline, giving us transparent access to an infinite render farm on Amazon Web Services as needed.

Our custom pipeline ties it all together, automating the colour pipeline settings, creating editorial and producer quick times, filing renders in the right directories and kicking off daily off-site backups.

*

Evening shifts serve two functions. Morning artists can't continue working past their 8 hours because someone is waiting for their seat - so we minimize OT. And after all of the hardware and software is amortized in the morning shift, the evening shift is just paying the artist's rate. We are getting a senior level artist with major credits for half of some facility's rates.

This works

We get more pennies on the screen by mixing high-end vendors with an in house team.   

 

We focus the in house artists on the most subjective shots, those that will require a lot of iterations and instant feedback, since I am available to them almost immediately. I also give them the basic and medium CG work. 

 

The vendors are aimed at the big pipeline shots, those that require deep experience and a bulletproof internal process to handle the most complex renders or very high shot counts. CG  characters with a lifelike performance, or large scale complex environments with a high page count.

This model works.

Everytime.

Behind the Scenes

I take a lot of pictures.