BURBANK — The first season of Fox’s Sleepy Hollow, which recently had its season finale, averaged anywhere from 30 to 300 visual effects shots.
The show’s VFX supervisor, Jason Zimmerman, had three go-to houses — Synaptic VFX, Pixomondo (www.pixomondo.com) and Fuse (www.fusefx.com) — to create what the producers wanted: feature-film-level visual effects to help illustrate its re-telling of the story of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman.
Zimmerman, who, in tandem with Eddie Bonin, the show’s VFX producer, broke down each episode to develop a shot list where select shots are assigned to Synaptic, based here in Burbank, and the other houses.
According to Zimmerman, Synaptic (www.synapticvfx.com) had several artists he had worked with before, including Mark Miller, who served as Synaptic’s in-house VFX executive producer for the series. “Synaptic worked primarily on the headless effects (head removal i.e. green hood paint out and match moving the CG collar and neck stump — see photo above), but also handled the vine animation on the finale. They were also responsible for the locusts swarming in the finale.”
He said that Pixomondo “did a lot of the heavy lifting on anything simulation related, so things like liquids, fire, smoke, and crumbling rock. It was Pixo that generated the dying acolytes effect seen in episode 107 and the finale. They also handled various comp shots. Fuse handled various tough comp shots as well as some CG simulations of a grave opening in the finale.”
Zimmerman didn’t impose any sort specific software on the houses. “We are confident that the facilities compositors and CG supervisors with assess what needs to be done and identify the right tool for the job. In general its the artist that is most important to us as they’re the ones that actually do the work. The software is really just the tool to get the shots done. he Foundry’s Nuke and Adobe’s After Effects for compositing work; and for CG used LightWave 3D, Autodesk’s Max and Maya, Fume FX, and Thinkbox’s Krakatoa software.
In terms of review and approvals, since I was in North Carolina on set a lot of the time, much of the review process was done remotely via FTP. When shows were turned over we tried to CineSync with the different offices or at least have a conference call to answer any questions and make sure everyone was on the same page.”