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Production Studio

Forward – VFX Post Production

I know it’s been a while since I’ve written an update on how things are coming for Forward. This is my first time working with a VFX artist and I have to say it’s been a great experience so far.

Let me back up, I found my VFX artist Chase Bickel online and reached out to him. You can see his IMDb work profile here. Yeah, this guy has done a ton of stuff so I feel very fortunate that he was willing to take on my project. I admit I kind of geeked out talking with him about Harry Potter.

Before we even started shooting I began working with Chase on the shot list asking him what we should do to set up the shots. This really helped to flesh out expectations on both sides and find out what not to do so it didn’t cost more money in the end. An example of this is as simple as locking off shots with sticks(tripod) so he didn’t have to motion track the VFX elements into the scene.

Another thing we discussed was shooting in front of green screen or just simple rotoscoping the subjects. Rotoscoping is when you mask out the actor or an object to allow other elements to be seen in the same frame in front or behind. An example is in the scene below we have the protagonist appearing as 2 different characters. One is from the past and the other is from the present. This was easily accomplished with a simple mask. The mask cuts 2 shots down the middle between the 2 characters and then follows the cement lines to cover it then you feather the mask just a little to blend. We had to make sure the camera was locked off so we didn’t have to adjust framing which is a nightmare.

Going into it, I realized that from doing my own small VFX projects it really paid off so I knew what to send him but there were still some unknowns. The unknowns I worked out with Chase and we came up with a basic system. You can work in tandem with programs like After Effects to link account via Creative Cloud┬áteam projects. He didn’t want to go this route so we kept is simple and I just exported what I wanted done with notes, screen shots and footage shared via Google Drive. Since then Chase has been texting me videos of his progress. Below you can see some of those texts he’s sent me so far.

The other thing I did to direct Chase better was send him video clips of other films that applied a similar look to what I was wanting. Then that gives you both a foundation to start from when you explain the differences you VFX idea might be. Personally, I’m not a micromanager so I give him creative freedom and he takes it and runs with it.

Do you know how to destroy team moral and creativity? Micromanage them and they will not only do a terrible job but they will never want to work with you again. I hired Chase because he can do what I can’t do. Let me throw down a challenge to anyone reading this, hire people who can not only do what you can’t but are far more talented in every way than you. Leaders/Director surround themselves with incredible talent so at the end of the day, their piece looks like a high budget Hollywood production. It’s okay if they know more than you, that’s a good thing and you will be so glad you hired them I guarantee it.

One last tip, let your VFX artist play during phase 1 before he/she drops the VFX models or affects into the comp. Think of what you are shown in the beginning as the foundation to the final result. If they are good at what they do there will be other layers on top of the foundation like glows, lens flares, etc and the results will be stunning. This kind of applies to the micromanaging point I made earlier. Money isn’t always why talent will be drawn to you and your projects, but creative freedom will be.

Hopefully this was helpful to you folks and if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to reach out or leave a comment down below.

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