VFX Legion, a remote boutique-style global company, has announced the opening of a full-scale division in British Columbia. Industry veteran James David Hattin, an early proponent of the virtualization of visual effects, launched the VFX Legion in 2013. The forward-thinking company introduced a groundbreaking collaborative work-from-home business model almost a decade before COVID-19 made social distancing essential. Headquartered in Los Angeles, the new Kelowna-based division takes its road-tested remote services to the next level.
“We began testing the waters in British Columbia last April,” says Hattin. “The volume of visual effects that the province’s robust film and TV industry required made it a great fit with our efficient, high-quality remote services. As a result, our workload steadily increased, and we outgrew our initial digs in less than a year. Spurred on by the influx of jobs and positive feedback, we launched a new end-to-end division, and expand our technical and creative resources.”
Further Expanding Technical and Creative Capabilities:
With security a top priority, VFX Legion set up the new location with TPN certification and remote workstations
housed in a lockdown space. It also significantly increases the company’s storage capacity. A built-out virtual private cloud keeps all content on-premises providing artists with immediate access and clients with total control over their assets. The studio’s size and layout allow for social distancing with multiple offices, rather than an oversized open workspace.
Proactively growing its team of talent residing throughout the province, VFX Legion built a local workforce with the scale needed to take maximum advantage of substantial tax incentives,” says Hattin. “British Columbia’s investment in infrastructure technology, including fiber-optic internet connectivity, is another reason that it’s a perfect hub for our remote business model.”
“Our sophisticated pipeline’s ability to render an artist’s location irrelevant provides VFX Legion with its greatest asset – an abundance of exceptional remote-savvy talent,” adds the creative director and founder. “A collective of over 200 artists was in place long before the pandemic. Their mastery of remote technology and our collaborative workflow has optimized efficiency and creativity for dozens of films and hundreds of TV episodes over the years. While the industry scrambled to set up in-house staff to work from home in response to a crisis, we didn’t need to change a thing.”
Current Projects, Right out of the Gate:
The studio already has over a dozen projects lined up, ‘Welcome to Blumhouse,’ a program of dark genre movies produced by Amazon Studios and Blumhouse Television. The B.C. division is currently managing the production of all of the visual effects for ‘Black Box,’ scheduled to premiere along with ‘The Lie,’ on October 6th. VFX Legion/B.C. is also sole VFX vendor for ‘Evil Eye’ and ‘Nocturne,’ both debuting on October 12th. The final four films will be released in 2021. Slated to stream on Prime Video, the thematically connected package marks Amazon’s first-ever global direct to services deal.
“We’ve invested in British Columbia at a very exciting time,” says Hattin. “The province’s work, establishing mandates and guidelines, put it on the fast track to recover. B.C. is one of North America’s first regions to restart production since COVID-19 brought it to a halt. The move presented an opportunity to expand our pioneering remote services. At the same time, it positions VFX Legion to provide the first wave of productions with innovative digital solutions that meet unprecedented challenges.”
Managing A Georgraphically Diverse Collective of Home-Based Artists:
The new division mirrors the company’s LA flagship studio’s structure, housing a core team of leadership and senior artists. The signing of an animation supervisor, C.G. supervisor, VFX coordinator, and two senior compositors are in the final stages.
VFX Legion/B.C.’s Head of Production and Partner:
Dylan Yestremski oversees the company’s B.C. arm, bringing strong managerial and creative skills to his new post. Closing the doors of Allegiance Studios, the VFX boutique he founded in 2015, Yestremski joined VFX Legion/BC as Head of Production and partner in the new venture. Hattin works closely with the B.C. native, supervising projects managed out of both British Columbia and Los Angeles.
Before the launch of VFX Legion/L.A., Yastremski worked with Hattin on several projects, including the TV series ‘Arrow,’ ‘The Flash,’ True Blood,’ and’Falling Skies,’ which received an Emmy nod for ‘Outstanding Special VFX’ in 2013. More recently, he’s lent his talents to numerous productions under VFX Legion’s banner, such as the movie ‘Hardcore Henry,’ and the series ‘Madam Secretary,’ ‘How to Get Away with Murder’ and ‘Scandal.’
“VFX Legion provides B.C.’s film and TV productions with access to a unique local resource that’s way ahead of the curve. Fully remote since inception, our leading-edge pipeline, honed protocols, and scalable collective of remote-savvy artists are well-established,” adds Hattin. “Without the distraction of adapting to new workflow and software, our focus remains where it’s always been – on applying our creative and technical ingenuity to producing digital imagery that meets the challenges of an ever-changing industry and brings a director’s vision to life.”
Since VFX Legion launch in 2013, every episodic series discovered the company has returned season after season through series finales.’How to Get Away with Murder,’ ‘Madam Secretary,’ ‘Scandal,’ ‘Suits,’ ‘Eye Candy,’ ‘Revolution,’ ‘The Catch,’ and ‘Gone’ are among its TV credits. Feature film work includes ‘Hardcore Henry,’ ‘The Gift,’ ’12 Strong,’ ‘Ithaca,’ ‘The Circle,’ ‘Please Stand By,’ ‘Jem and the Holograms,’ ‘Superfly,’ ‘Sinister 2,’ and ‘Ma.’
“As a result of CORVID-19, while companies moved from a traditional infrastructure to a drastically different workflow, VFX Legion didn’t need to change a thing,” notes Hattin. “A forerunner of today’s’ new normal,’ our new division brings the experience and digital ingenuity of a company born into the remote visual effects culture to B.C.”
VFX Legion’s pipeline incorporates Autodesk’s Shotgun and Maya, SideFX’s Houdini, The Foundry’s Nuke, SYNTHeyes, Signiant Medial Shuttle and Adobe After Effects. Hattin, the architect of the pipeline, integrated software with proprietary in-house tools and off-label applications that expand its capabilities. Fluidly evolved, ongoing refinements and new technology take advantage its flexibility.