Visualization services company, OPSIS, recently called on VFX Legion to lend its talents to Songbird, director Adam Mason's new dystopian thriller from producer Michael Bay. As the film’s primary visual effects vendor, OPSIS provided end-to-end services - from Concept, Previs, Postvis, and finalizing VFX shots to assembling the right talent for the job. OPSIS integrated Legion into its team, tapping the pioneeing remote company's experience and ‘deep bench’ of home-based senior talent for the film, which premiered December 11th on premium video-on-demand streaming platforms.
Spearheaded by OPSIS' VFX supervisor Michael Jackson and VFX producer Lena Bahrs, Legion created around 200 photoreal visual effects for Songbird. VFX supervisor James David Hattin and VFX producer Nate Smalley in LA, and Dylan Yastremski, Head of Production in B.C., led their diverse group of talent. Drawing from Legion’s global collective of remote-savvy artists, they assembled and helmed a workforce with the expertise needed to efficiently craft the mix of high-quality visual effects that the film demanded.
“OPSIS explored creative options, integrating conceptual artwork into Postvis, getting sign-offs on 'looks' during principal photography, and delivering final layouts for most visual effects before the post process began,” says Hattin. “They provided us with a blueprint for each shot, as well the timing and beats, eliminating the need for endless versions, enabling our artists to cost-effectively turn around large volumes of complex shots on very tight deadlines with ease.”
Songbird is set in 2024, as a much more deadly mutation of coronavirus spreads throughout the world. The story unfolds in Los Angeles, where the military meets the crisis with an enforced lockdown, compulsory scanning, and the infected forced from their homes and transported to quarantine camps. The sci-fi thriller centers on a handful of people and their plight to survive the pandemic and navigate an oppressive totalitarian system.
While safety concerns kept most people off the streets during production, creating the desolate, apocalyptic look of a city ravaged by a deadly pathogen and oppressive conditions required the help of digital imagery. OPSIS worked with Legion to craft hundreds of photoreal visual effects and CG environments that seamlessly blend with practical footage, bringing the director’s vision to life.
Artists applied a range of skillsets, including animation, CGI, compositing, camera tracking, and rotoscoping to create a variety of visual effects. VFX Legion crafted fully digital backdrops of Los Angeles, from wide sweeping shots of the city to virtual cityscapes and skyline. Animated CG helicopters and an ominous armed surveillance drone that monitors the city appear in several live-action and virtual shots.
Songbird was an ideal candidate for OPSIS’ visualization services and Legion’s road-tested remote approach. Both the production's timeline and bottom line benefited from OPSIS’ efficient management and execution of over 250 visual effects for the film.
Along with changing the dynamics of productions, the pandemic has had a significant impact on the collaborative process of creating visual effects. Helmed by industry veterans, OPSIS’ experience working in the visual effects arena, their in-depth knowledge of its players, and their strengths and seamless remote capabilities keep the company ahead of the curve.
“Having Legion as part of our team allowed us to get a jump start in allocating artists and technologists, working safely and remotely, as Legion has been operating with distributed teams for years,” says Henrik Fett, OPSIS’ CEO. “They are tremendously experienced in managing remote VFX productions, with a deep bench of senior artists that really makes a difference.”
“It is refreshing to work with people who know the important value they bring to a project while embracing being part of a bigger group,” Fett adds. “All of our partners and collaborators are established in their field, and we are excited to have assembled such an all-star team for Songbird!”
"We appreciate OPSIS’ leaderships throughout the production of Songbird and the opportunity to play a role in helping them make this film a successful project for everyone,” notes Hattin.