VFX Legion's Kyle Spiker Discusses his Work on "How to Get Away with Murder" using ActionVFX

VFX Legion's Kyle Spiker Discusses his Work on "How to Get Away with Murder" using ActionVFX

April 25, 2017
Luke Thompson
VFX Legion is a large scale production and VFX studio that utilizes current technology to bring together creatives from across the globe, specializing in compositing, cleanup, and 2D/3D graphics. 

Through their ingenious process of hiring artists remotely, they’re not only helping the economy of the VFX industry, but they’re keeping artists employed and creative – no matter where they live.

We had the chance to interview Kyle Spiker, Lead Compositor from VFX Legion that has used ActionVFX in his most recent work on two popular television shows, How to Get Away with Murder and Legends of Tomorrow.

Before we get to the interview, check out VFX Legion’s latest VFX reel here!

What is VFX Legion?

VFX Legion is a visual effects studio that does TV, film and commercial work. We’ve been working lately on ABC shows, such as Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder, and Catch. We’ve also done a lot of horror films for Blumhouse Productions, like Sinister and Insidious.
Legion has 10 full time employees. We expand and contract in response to client demand (which ramps up and goes down along with TV show seasons, etc).. The most we’ve had so far is 50 full time employees. 

The vast majority of our artists work remotely, meaning we can effectively have people working around the clock, all around the world in different time zones.

How does the whole working remotely thing work?

At Legion, we found artists work best where they are most comfortable. Legion provides every artist with the tools they need to complete the shots. Most of the full-time staff is managerial, where they build the projects, organize them, distribute shots, and maintain quality control of what needs to be fixed before being sent out to the client.

How long have you been in the film and TV industry?

I have been in the industry for about a decade and with VFX Legion since it began, about three years ago. I started my first job with a design company in northern California doing a lot of web video for Fortune 500 companies, such as Intel, Apple, and AMD.

I quickly got bored with that and wanted to do more shot-specific stuff, so I built a demo reel and got a job working on the Knight Rider reboot. I did a lot of effects for that, fell in love, and have been working in the industry ever since. As of now, I have about 100 shows under my belt.

Tell us about your work on Legends of Tomorrow and How to get Away with Murder.

Right when your Muzzle Flash Collection came out, we used it for some gunfire shots inside of Legends of Tomorrow. Having full range in the Muzzle Flash images is fantastic! Usually it’s just a clipped flat still.
On How to Get Away with Murder, we were in charge of anything fire related throughout the entire series, which is where we made use of your Ground Fire and Structure Fire Collections. My favorite shot of the series is a pan up to the main character and from there to the burning house, with the fire gradually getting bigger and bigger.

How was your experience with using ActionVFX assets inside of your workflow?

I first found out about you because of the free products on your website. Since I was in charge of all of the house fire scenes for the previous season of How to Get Away with Murder, I decided to pick up the Structure Fire Collection. 

I built a huge matte painting with tons of layers that fit a scene from the show and then went back to the website to grab your Atmospheric Smoke & Fog Collection, as well as the free Smoke Plumes.
Not only is your stuff shot very well, but everything is within frame and properly exposed with nothing clipping, which is fantastic! You have a library of options that are all consistent and shot well, which is really important.

What motivates and inspires you and your team to create?

I’m personally driven to find interesting solutions to creative problems.  I’m constantly looking for the best approach and modifying my technique as I go.  Compositing and visual effects in general seems to fit how my brain works.

I love Sci-Fi. There’s a vast library of great work to pull from and right now some of the best is being made.  My current watch list includes Legion (not just because of the name) and The Expanse.  Very interesting stories and some solid work. 

If it has energy effects, holograms, space ships, future UI, mechs – I love all of that.

What is a common challenge you face when working in your industry? 

TIME! There is never enough time to get the final version the client needs to meet my own personal standards. It definitely meets the standards of the clients, but there is a piece of me that is left unsatisfied. I just wish there was some extra time to put in that additional detail in a project.
Communication is another huge challenge we face, to make sure things are shared effectively and accurately to all who are needed on a project. We’re always working harder on trying to figure out how to better inform our artists, so they understand what the client is after.

Thanks for taking the time to chat with us about VFX Legion and some of your recent projects. I'm really looking forward to seeing what awesome things you create next using ActionVFX elements!

First time here? ActionVFX creates action stock footage for VFX and filmmaking. (We also have some great free stuff!)

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