2 July 2020 The Irish Film & Television Network
     
VFX Spotlight Part One: Egg Post Production
02 Dec 2013 :
Visual effects for Sky One's 'Sinbad' were completed by Egg Post Production.
To mark Ireland’s inaugural VFX, Animation and Games Summit which launched in Dublin’s Science Gallery this Friday past, IFTN turns the spotlight on the indigenous visual effects and animation industry in a series of interviews with industry leaders.

With Irish VFX work regularly appearing across the world on both the silver screen and the small, IFTN begin our weekly feature by talking to Liam Neville, VFX supervisor at Egg Post-Production Facilities.

Located in Dublin, Egg Post-Production was founded in 2004 and in the decade since has seen both VFX and post-production editing work produced in dozens of formats, on shows such as ‘Ripper Street’ and ‘Moone Boy’ to credits on many Irish features such as ‘The Canal’, ‘Broken Song’, and Ripple World’s ‘Earthbound’.

IFTN catches up with Egg VFX supervisor Liam Neville – an Australian native, Neville holds degrees in both TV Production and Multimedia, and has racked up credits on productions such as HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones’, Baz Luhrmann’s ‘Australia’ and the record-smashing ‘Avengers Assemble’.

To begin, why don't you tell us a little about the main VFX areas you specialise in and some of your most famous projects to date?
Here at Egg we are incredibly proud of our work on Sinbad for Sky One last year. This was a great opportunity to show our ability of bringing to life many CG characters and have them integrate seamlessly with live action footage. Our lighting team, animators and compositors really helped sell such fantastical creatures in a real world environment. Although Sinbad was episodic television, as always we aimed for the visuals to stand up on a feature film level.

Egg VFX is bespoke, we design our teams to the work our clients award us, from CG character and environment work, matte painting, fx simulations (fire, water, smoke), and also motion graphics from our design team. As of current we are continuing our emphasis on cg animation, but are ready for any client requirements to take on board.

What have you found to be the most common misconception about visual effects and their place within the industry?
The work of the VFX artist is visual magic, but there can be some assumption that you simply press the ‘Button’ and presto! it is done. Artists spend years honing their craft, and the learning never stops; a full team can be as large if not larger than the on-set production crew.

Some filmmakers have been vocal against the saturation of VFX seen in Hollywood pictures, arguing that it forefronts style over substance - what would you say to that?
A great film can only start with a great script. However, with the real advances of VFX technologies what we are seeing is an opening up of the types of stories we can show and tell. Simply put, these stories will appeal to some directors and not to others.

More and more, actors are often asked to perform with characters or in environments that aren't actually there -can you describe your experience of working with actors when they need to be incorporated into VFX shots and what was the process like?
I actually find the actors of late openly embracing the challenge. Although it may sound daunting for an actor to either share their lines with a cardboard cutout stand in or visualise a world beyond the green screen they are surrounded by, it’s still fundamentally a chance for them to exercise their imaginations, which most actors thrive on. If you have both a strong director and VFX Supervisor supporting them through the process of conceptualising the scene, helping with their eye lines, etc. they tend to adapt to the process rather positively.

Which is more challenging for a post-production studio - creating effects designed to blend into existing environments, or creating these environments from scratch?
Without a doubt, the latter. Ensuring that a created environment is precisely as envisaged by a director and production designer is the bigger challenge – but a great creative challenge! Working with initial sketches and full concepts from the production team and having lots of conversation & planning is the key to the success of building the environment. Afterwards blending the environment in to live action is the easier task, when the last artist on the chain, the compositor, delivers seamless photorealistic images for final output.

Can you briefly talk us through the various stages a shot might go through while passing through your production house?
After storyboards, shot discussion on vfx requirements and bid approval, work is scheduled starting with Match Move, Roto & Paint Prep, 3D Asset Creation, Animation and Lighting, to Composite for finish. At all stages the crucial aspect to any shot, be it large scale 3 dimensional water dynamics or a subtle sky replacement, is communication. From the first stage of bidding all the way through months later to final delivery, clear discussion with your client and with each of the artists is fundamental. You won’t succeed otherwise.

Technology has afforded amateur filmmakers the opportunity to produce high-quality work at home. What kind of impact do you think this will have on the VFX industry?
This will have nothing but positive effects. Home made DIY VFX are a great way to learn the technicalities and also open your understanding to the creative possibilities. Young film makers trying this will become greatly informed on the technical language and processes, and also understand when using visual effects truly adds to & enhances the narrative. Go forth and experiment!

With the VFX industry booming, would you have any advice for young people considering a career as a VFX artist?
Two tips –

  • Never stop training, continue learning your craft. Understand how your speciality integrates with others. If you are a Rigger, learn how to model, learn how to animate, this is guaranteed to make your work even better.
  • Encourage and support each other. Share your knowledge, don’t be a secret squirrel! Who you know is just as important as what you know.

And finally, can you tell us about any of your studios current or upcoming projects?
At the moment we can’t reveal the project name we are crewed up on, but we are very excited to be working on a feature with lots of animated characters in a live action environment. Lots of info about it to come on our site egg.ie - watch this space!

For more information on some of those upcoming features or to catch up on the projects at Egg Post-Production in general, visit their website.

IFTN’s series of VFX feature interviews is to be continued...



FEATURES & INTERVIEWS
Aoife Crehan on Writing and Directing
Catherine Walker on Acting
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