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VFX Supervisor Dan Sachar on Creating Award-Winning Composites Using ActionVFX Stock Footage

VFX Supervisor Dan Sachar on Creating Award-Winning Composites Using ActionVFX Stock Footage

In this article, we’re here to chat with VFX Supervisor Dan Sachar about his recent work on the Award-Winning Series, When Heroes Fly.

We’ll be giving you a quick look at how this two-man team turned around a large number of action-based VFX shots for this series, and how ActionVFX elements helped them do so without sacrificing the overall quality of their composites.
Luke: First off, thank you very much for taking the time to talk to us about your work on this project. As soon as you sent me over your showreel, I was immediately interested in seeing more!

So, just to get us kicked off, go ahead and give us a little of your background in the industry.

Dan: Daniel Fallik and I are a tiny two-man studio from Israel. We met back in film school, and because back then we both had a passion to direct genre short films, we kind of knew we had to teach ourselves some visual effects skills. We learned After Effects mostly from online tutorials, and because we became the “go to” guys for our friends to do the VFX on their short films - we gained some nice experience pretty fast over the years.
As a studio, we worked on the biggest TV shows here in Israel, which includes the 2nd season of the Netflix Israeli TV drama Fauda (which gave us the Best Visual Effects award for it on the Israeli TV Academy Awards last year), and lately, we have made the VFX for a new Israeli show called When Heroes Fly

The show had some of the highest TV ratings in the Israeli network ever and won Best Show at the last Canneseries festival.

Luke: That’s awesome! Congratulations on those awards and the success of both shows. What would you say were some of the big challenges that you faced while working on this series?

Dan: The biggest challenge was actually a technical one - this series was produced and shot simultaneously with the 2nd season of Fauda, where I was both the VFX Supervisor AND the 2nd Unit Director, so it was really hard to keep up with the insane schedule and deadlines. Which reminds me, I still didn’t take my vacation yet...

Luke: Is there something you didn’t know, but wish you had, going into the post-production process of When Heroes Fly? Maybe a specific technique or better understanding of a specific area?

Dan: With each project, you ALWAYS learn new techniques, so it is always challenging.
Specifically for this project, there were a lot of set extensions, and because half of the series was shot in Colombia, I wasn't there to supervise. 

In order to make really good set extensions, it is always a good idea to have a guy with a DSLR camera to shoot as many photos as he can from any location, even just for reference sake - a demand which wasn’t actually fulfilled. With the appropriate photos from set, we could have saved a lot of time going through dozens of image banks searching for these specific vistas.
Luke: Ouch! There always seems to be just a couple minor things in any production that can become a major time-sink if not handled properly. Hopefully, next time they’ll honor the request! 

Now you mentioned that sometimes you use those images for reference, but I can imagine you’d also use them sometimes for actually creating the set extension. How big of a role would you say that stock asset libraries play in your everyday compositing?

Dan: I can’t imagine what we would have done without The ActionVFX Drive

On the pilot episode, there’s a war scene which is around 10 minutes long of non-stop action. Just this scene alone was around 320 shots, which varied from gun traces to full-blown explosions.
The vast majority of the assets we have used for this scene were from ActionVFX, the rest was simulated. I can’t even begin to stress what a time saver this was.
We have used lots of assets from Dust Waves Vol. 2, Ground Bursts, and Atmospheric Smoke and Fog (which is my personal favorite).

I think there’s no match for the quality you get for the price. Actually, I’m sure.

Luke: Yeah, that’s definitely a crazy amount of shots to turn around with such a small team. You guys did a great job, though!
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Dan, thank you again for reaching out to us with this cool project and being willing to share some of your experience with us!

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