VFX Legion Creates Visual Effects For ‘The Food That Built America,’

VFX Legion recently completed a complex mix of visual effects for History Channel’s new docudrama mini-series, The Food that built America. The Burbank-based company worked on every phase of the production, from start to finish. Its team was on-site during locations scouting and on-set during production in New York, all the way through the final delivery of a show open assigned during the eleventh hour of production. Its LA and NY teams provided a full-service approach to producing a wide range of high-quality, cost-effective visual effect that the show demanded.

Produced by Lucky 8, out of New York, The Food that Built America tell the stories of visionaries – such as Milton Hershey, John and Will Kellogg, Henry Heinz, C.W. Post, the McDonalds brothers – who built the brands and invented the technology that revolutionized the food industry. The docudrama recounts these titans’ roles in the reshaping of the country’s culinary landscape at the turn of the century using dramatic reenactments that replicate the look of the period with spot-on accuracy.

Among VFX Legion’s most challenging tasks was building out present-day structures with large-scale set extension to recreate warehouses and factories from a by-gone era.  Legion stepped in to meet another challenge when the plates originally shot didn’t show off the Hershey factory and surrounding landscape to their best advantage.  Its team built a fully digital replica of the factory and the vast landscape surrounding it – from the ground up. The shot recreated the style of the period architecture, as well as the documentary-like feel of the series.

“Working on a docudrama with Lucky 8, a New York-based company that’s produced a prestigious roster of documentaries, was a great experience,” adds Hattin. “History Channel is home to a continuing line-up of documentaries and docudramas that captivate and engross audiences with dynamic programming about the past and present. Legion’s team really enjoyed and appreciated the opportunity to work in this genre.”

Lucky 8 creative director Yoshi Stone worked closely with Legion LA In-house VFX Supervisor Matthew Lynn and Creative Director James Hattin. They developed the look of the sets based on the technical scout sessions that VFX Legion New York-based On-Set Supervisor Eric Pascarelli attended.

Working with Lucky 8’s production team during the shoots, Pascarelli made sure they had the shots Legion’s artists needed back in Burbank. The detailed descriptions and measurements of each shoot that he provided ensured that they got it right the first time and were able to turn around all of the visual effects quickly and cost-effectively. VFX Legion used Zoom video conferencing to collaborate during every phase of the production and to go over the continually evolving plan of action and ensure that the teams on both coasts were always on the same page.

The Food That Built America was a fixed cost show because of the way it was structured. It required the kind of practical solutions that our pioneering pipeline and forward-thinking approach to visual effects production was created to handle,” says  Legion founder Hattin.

Late in the game, Lucky 8 asked Legion to create the show open graphics package. The team pitched a number of designs and styles of both treatments and logos. The company’s LA team designed and animated the open, and fine-tuned it based on the client’s editorial decisions.


Veteran compositing supervisor Rebecca Manning joins Alkemy X

Alkemy X has hired Rebecca Manning as compositing supervisor for its visual effects division.

Based at Alkemy’s New York studio, she will lead the compositing team on current projects including the television series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Fear of the Walking Dead, Mr. Mercedes and Blindspot.

Mark Miller, executive producer/business development, “Rebecca is a gifted artist with strong artistic, technical and leadership skills. She has led large teams on challenging projects and delivered outstanding results. She is an excellent addition to the Alkemy X team as we continue to grow and expand our capabilities on both coasts.”

Having previously worked at Iloura, Digital Domain and Rising Sun Pictures, Manning’s experience includes working on projects such as Avatar, X-Men: Days of Future Past, The Jungle Book, Mortal Engines and War For the Planet of the Apes among others.

“I love art, I love movies and I love technology,” exclaimed Manning. “Compositing combines all three. Some compositors tilt toward the artistic side; others are more technically minded. I have a good combination of the two and have been interested in art and technology since I was very young. Compositing is a role I’m ideally suited to.”

Miller’s plans to expand its visual effects division and handle bigger projects is what drew Manning to joining Alkemy X. “Alkemy X is committed to delivering the highest quality in visual effects and bringing in top caliber projects,” she said. “I want to be part of that push forward and help the studio compete on the global stage. The team here is very enthusiastic and it shows in the work.”

MPC’s New York studio hire Tom McCullogh as creative director

Visual effects outfit Moving Picture Company has announced the addition of artist Tom McCullough as creative director of it’s New York studio’s finishing department.

McCullough brings with him two decades of experience, having worked on numerus global brands as well as lending his expertise to features and series such as Marvel’s The Defenders, HBO’s The Wire, and Sex and the City.

McCullough commented, “I’m looking forward to working with the enormous pool of talent at MPC, leading a department and helping build something exciting. I love creating relationships with clients and helping realize their vision. As a flame artist, there is already a great deal of that in the room, but as creative director, I’m looking forward to being involved in the process all the way through from inception to completion.”

“This new addition marks the studio’s commitment to boosting their finishing capabilities and being at the forefront of the beauty space. As their finishing work has grown considerably, Tom will be driving these projects forward and pushing them even further,” commented MPC’s CEO Mark Benson. “His vast experience in both the creative and technical aspects of the industry, as well as his keen eye and incredible versatility, makes him the perfect person for the role.”

“Tom is going to be a hugely valuable addition to the team over in New York,” Hansen noted. “With both studios having creative directors fully focused on finishing, we pretty much have the US covered in that department!”      

Digital Domain’s Hyderabad Facility working on Multiple International projects

Digital Domain’s newly inaugurated studio at Hyderabad

Visual effects company Digital Domain inaugurated its first Indian studio recently at Hyderabad which is its tenth location for a global studio. Within a few months of operations, the studio got to work on several international projects. The details of the projects have not been disclosed yet.

A media invite was recently organized at their facility in WaveRock SEZ, Hyderabad. Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer of Digital Domain Amit Chopra & Head of Digital Studio, India, Sudhir Reddy addressed the media representatives.

Some of the latest features Digital Domain has worked on are Thor: Ragnarok, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Fate Of The Furious, Power Rangers, & Beauty and The Beast.

In addition to Hyderabad, Digital Domain has global presence in Los Angeles, New York, Portland, Vancouver, London, Shanghai, Beijing, Taipei and Hong Kong.

Executive director and chief operating officer of Digital Domain Amit Chopra

Digital Domain management was appreciative of Telangana Government’s support in offering encouraging benefits through their existing image policy for animation, gaming  and visual effects industry.

Amit Chopra revealed to Animation Xpress, “There are several large projects we are working on right now, including a few in collaboration with North America, and a few in collaboration with our China studios.

He added, “It is an achievement to say that in a few months, Digital Domain India has worked on approximately 6000 VFX shots. Our multiple locations are seeing more collaboration with each other than we initially thought would be the case so early on.”

He also added, “India has been our dream for the last 5 years and now it has come true. It is a true testament to our people what we have been able to achieve in a very short period of time.” Chopra hopes that in the next five years, 3-5 percent of its global revenue will come from India and the Hyderabad studio will rake in around $15 million for the company.

“We have designed our Hyderabad office like our North American offices to give the sense of actually working out of a Digital Domain facility to anyone traveling across continents or future cross pollination of internal resources” added Reddy.

Head of Digital Studio India – Digital Domain, Sudhir Reddy

Reddy and Chopra both said that the facility is designed to provide comfortable working space for all artists and support staff. In addition to the exciting projects and work opportunities, its open environment & work culture will make people want to work here and help the company retain people as part of their long term career growth plan.

The Digital Domain team explained the reason behind choosing Hyderabad over Mumbai.Reddy said, “It took a lot of hard work to do this. A lot of people from Hyderabad had left their homes to work in Mumbai, Bangalore and other cities. We wanted them to come back to their own city and work here, living with their families.”

Chopra also says, “Hyderabad is rather a different place and people think differently here. We see a good work-life balance in this city and expect our employees to stay here for long.”

The studio plans to focus more on the global feature film based projects. Regarding working on Indian films, he said, “We are keen and open to doing them”

Amit Chopra explained that Digital Domain’s strength lies in the details. It is well known for its destruction simulation and digital human work. He also spoke about how the company has created a lot of digital human and spoke about films like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

Sudhir Reddy addressing the media

A breathtaking 2017 VFX reel was showcased followed by a quick studio tour.  The studio has been built with an investment of around $3-5 million. The studio has a staff of 205 currently with a capacity to grow to 500. Chief executive officer, Daniel Seah said that with a capacity of 500 professionals, the studio would be the second largest for the company after its Vancouver studio.

Initially Digital Domain had planned to open the studio in Mumbai and there were a lot of talks with several studios for collaborations. Later on, Digital Domain decided to create the company from scratch and ruled out any studio acquisitions.

“Digital Domain Hyderabad’s current focus is features, commercials and TV Series and by mid 2018 it will start building on its AR and VR capabilities” said Reddy.

Majority of the current staff working in Digital Domain have experience in working on both local and international projects. However it plans to have interns on board in future. Reddy said, “We are planning to work with VFX schools on their final year module and offer a 3 month internship program to help build bench strength for us and the industry in general”.

Amit Chopra addressing the media

Digital Domain plans to bring VFX supervisors from abroad only if the situation demands but there is no such plans right now.There was a media tour of the whole office and all the departments were shown. The design is a mix of Indian as well as western. The Digital Domain office at Hyderabad has some spectacular interiors which has been designed similar to the LA and Vancouver office.  It also has some spectacular interiors reflecting the legacy of Digital Domain in the form of poster frames of international movies and some amazing art work on the walls.

Wall art at Digital Domain, Hyderabad
Interiors at Digital Domain, Hyderabad
Wall art at Digital Domain, Hyderabad


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