So You Want Visual Effects In Your Show. Part 1.

So you want Visual Effects in your show. Part 1.

Welcome to this installment of “SYWVEIYS”

What are the first things that you need to think about as a film maker who wants to have visual effects in your feature/ad/television show/internet short? Who do you call and when do you call them? How much is it going to cost? How long will the process last? What can I do as a film maker to make it work for me?

Those are some of the best questions. Let’s hit them in the order they came in. Who to call and when. All visual effect companies are always hungry. It’s part of being in business. So ask friends, search the web, look for names you’ve heard before and then ask for a reel, or go online and see what kind of work the studio you are looking at has done. Does their work look like something you would want representing you? As soon as you have a script that is shootable, or before, you should start talking to VFX vendors.

You should always get at least 3 bids. Send them an NDA and a script and get them to bid it out. If you have done your own breakdown about what YOU think the VFX should be, then send that along as well. This will give the vendor a chance to see what kind of things you are looking for. As a vendor, when we bid on lower budget shows, our goal is always to help save money and make sure that it is all well spent. Often times we will assume that you have special effects on set and a lot of the work can be shot on the day. If that isn’t the case, let your vendor know. It isn’t always possible to have the prop guns shoot, whether it is location or permits, sometimes you need VFX where it seems unlikely.

The first bid you will get and have to approve is called the ‘production bid’. This is the estimate from the vendor based on what is on the page. A careful reading should get you close to the numbers that you will see on the post bid. In some cases, it is not possible to start shooting with a vendor’s bid that is too high. Even if you love them, something has to change. That means talking to the VFX producer and supervisor about how to control costs so that you have all the numbers lined up where they need to be. Don’t be afraid to have this discussion. As a vendor, we need to know when we are over your budget. We can often offer solutions to do things practically or help out in meaningful ways to control your costs.

How much is it going to cost? That’s a huge variable and there’s a complex answer to this. There are levels of work, levels of artists, and locations. If you are chasing a tax credit, then you will have savings eventually, but you will have to have your work done in a remote city with possibly no local interface. New York has a nice credit as well as Louisiana, and many parts of Canada. One of the downsides of doing all the work in a tax credit city/state is that you have no control over the quality of the talent that is being put on your show. In the spiraling race to the bottom of visual effects, VFX houses are forced to use only locally sourced talent. In many areas, there is no senior level talent. There are a lot of kids and hobbyists that can work. Which means, that the work done on your show may be the best thing in the world, or it will need constant revisions in order to achieve your vision. If you are simply looking for the best quality at a fair price then you can still find quite a few VFX houses in Los Angeles that can accommodate that. Something Legion offers that is a little different than other vendors is to show you what artists would likely be on your project. You would be able to see their reels and make sure that you are comfortable with the level of experience we are offering.

The second bid you will get from a vendor is the ‘post bid’ This is based on the offline that editorial provides. This is very often where the budget creep happens. There is a real financial cost to ‘fixing it in post’ and this is where that comes in. Sometimes you will be faced with a couple of choices. Change the edit or eat into contingency funds. As a vendor we can only offer what cost controls we can. The production bid could have been off by a little or a lot. The advantage of having a supervisor on set is that you can find out early and often when things are looking like they will cost more money. This, at least, provides for planning in post. It is also worth making sure your line producer or UPM is aware of what can push up costs. We’ve seen a lot of production people push things off to post, because by the time the VFX vendor sits down to bid on something, the people that pushed into post are well onto other shows and aren’t really accountable.

Once you have all the numbers, you know the costs. Now comes the time to control those costs, to make sure they don’t go spiraling out of control as you move forward with VFX. A solid understanding of the steps that take place to create the work is important.

Stay tuned for So You Want Visual Effects In Your Show part 2: “The steps needed to complete a shot…”

A Kick-Off of Sorts

Welcome to Legion Studios

We are a co-op of visual effects professionals that have come together to provide a better caliber of work at a more cost effective price point.

We will be offering training and tutorials for up and coming artists, as well as workshops for producers and show runners to better understand the process of visual effects and how it can be best used in your production. Giving productions the edge when dealing with vfx facilities, whether it is Legion or someone else, knowing the lingo and the process will get you much more bang for your buck.

This model offers significant advantages over the traditional vfx studio model. While we can offer the studio experience with a central office, the goal is for artists to work remotely and communicate in real time. Allowing top notch talent to work on projects in the spare cycles offers flexibility and affordability.

What we offer are senior artists, senior producers and senior coordinators, all working to provide the kind of quality and efficiency that makes your project look great and come in on budget.

In the coming weeks and months, we will be posting a reel of the kind of work that we produce. We will have a bid page with the type of work available and what you could expect a bid to look like from Legion.

Contact us using the form below.