VFX Legion uses pipeline to deliver remote needs

The film and television industry’s top priority since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the health of its employees. Companies have moved quickly to find ways to adapt in-house staff to work-from-home scenarios that minimize health risks.  VFX Legion, the pioneer of a collaborative remote business model, is uniquely positioned ahead of the curve.

With a collective of 100+ artists working from the safety of their homes already in place, the LA-based company, with a satellite studio in B.C., meets the challenge of the current crisis with almost a decade of experience in the remote arena, providing feature films and episodic series with high-quality, cost-effective visual effects.

VFX Legion introduced its fully remote company in 2013, undeterred by the almost industry-wide stigma associated with work-at-home services.  The steady flow of return business from companies that have discovered the artist-driven visual effects house attests to the caliber of its work.

CG Barrier  /’Legends of Tomorrow ‘                      

Founder James David Hattin is the architect of VFX Legion’s next-generation remote pipeline. Built from the ground up, it integrates state-of-the-art technology with innovative, off-label collaborative capabilities that provide seamless remote workflow.  

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Launched in 2013, the company brings together a diverse team of specialized home-based talent in a transparent virtual work environment – with the connectivity to efficiently manage the complexities of a visual effects production process with a daunted number of moving parts.

CG Replication of Air Force One /’Scandal’              

While Legion broke with the traditional in-house approach to visual effects, working with the visual effects house is anything but ‘disruptive.’  For clients, the experience is indistinguishable from conventional studios with artists working in-house.

  CG Facade of The White House 

“I don’t think most of our clients are even aware of our remote approach,” says Hattin. “What keeps them coming back is the trust we’ve earned. They know they can rely on our ability to deliver large shot counts of photo-real visual effects on tight budgets and consistently meet deadlines while elevating production value with sheer technical ingenuity.”

James David Hattin

Since opening its doors eight years ago, every high-profile episodic series that discovered VFX Legion – including Madam Secretary, Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder – has returned to work with the company season after season, right through series finales. 

While change seems to be the only constant in the industry, it usually begins as a trend that gains momentum. The Coronavirus came out of left-field, leaving no time to prepare.  Almost overnight, remote capability became the only option enabling projects to move forward safely – and companies have scrambled put them in place quickly. 

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“Working remotely to produce visual effects presents unique challenges,” says Hattin. “It takes large teams of artists with specialized disciples to create multiple components for a shot that fit together seamlessly in composite, blend into a computer-generated environment, and produce the mix of effects that augment footage.”

The range of remote capabilities that enables VFX talent to work as a cohesive unit provides invaluable flexibility, but it is not a simple task. It took Hattin over a year to develop and build a remote pipeline that taps the potential of digital connectivity to meet the challenges that complex visual effects present. 

“The time we invested upfront, developing the structure, methodology, procedures, and other essential elements, was well spent,” notes Hattin.  “It allowed us to build a ground-breaking state-of-the-art remote pipeline and hone our approach and workflows while vetting talent and growing a large and diverse collective of experienced  artists.” 

In recent years an increasing number of visual effects companies have come to realize that digital connectivity is the future of the industry. Many are taking advantage of virtual space and integrating digital capabilities into their workflow.

However, with investments in facilities built around expensive infrastructures designed to connect in-house teams – and the stigma associated with working remotely – there hasn’t been much incentive to build sophisticated pipelines. Despite the industry’s general resistance, a new generation of remote-based visual effects studios is beginning to emerge.

Legion’s remote pipeline allows it to remain competitive as visual effects work is driven to regions offering tax incentives. Not limited by a finite number of workstations or proximity to a studio, the company has the scalability that comes with its ability to work with a scattered pool of experienced artists as an integrated team. 

Currently poised to meet the new challenges that the pandemic presents without the need to adapt the company’s workflow or sacrifice quality and efficiency – it appears that Hattin’s instincts were spot on.

“We’re confident that production companies tapping VFX Legion’s services for the first time will benefit from the advantages of an elegant approach to remote visual effects and come away with a new perspective,” adds Hattin.