Tag Archives: VFX Coordinator

Staying Ahead of the Curve in an Ever Changing Industry: Meet Video Artist Denis Ogorodov

Denis Ogorodov is arguably one of the most uniquely skilled video artists in the industry today. His ability to create videos that leave viewers feeling a deep connection to a brand has undoubtedly made him shine in the eyes of the advertisers who hire him, but it’s his jack-of-all-trades approach to media production that has ultimately placed him ahead of the curve and made him a creative worth looking to for inspiration. 

Last year Denis’s technical skill set and artistic prowess landed him the opportunity to design for the multi-billion dollar streaming giant Twitch from Amazon, an interactive platform where millions of users engage online to dive deeper into gaming, concerts and more. 

Video artist – Denis Ogorodov

Known for his vast skill set, Denis has proven himself as a leading editor, vfx artist, colorist and so much more, that’s one of the reasons he’s referred to as a video artist– because there’s no other title that can really do justice to all the things he handles. 

For Twitch, which is estimated to be worth an astounding $5 billion, Denis was called in specifically to work as the lead editor on their ‘Twitch January Drop’ digital campaign, which showcased the platform’s numerous features, as well as an impressive line-up of interactive events, programming and content.

The vibe of the campaign was intended to be energetic and fast-paced in order to coincide with the incredible range of things the platform offers

“We wanted this 60 second ad to feel almost overwhelming by showing just how much content there is on Twitch,” he says. “We had to find a song that was very energetic that was able to keep the momentum, but at the same time find a balance, where yes it feels almost overwhelming, but people are still registering what’s going on.”

Official “Twitch January Drop” video

“The campaign was designed to be interactive… So many of the assets had to be built in such a way that they could fit together like building blocks, sometimes changing the order, speed, branding or titles…the main video was designed to function as the kick-off for the event.”

The fact that the campaign was interactive not only made it unique, but also challenging, as it was updated live during each stream. As the lead editor, this is one area where Denis’s technical expertise proved invaluable, as his work helped ensure that the campaign’s design remained consistent across every channel and update.

Not only was Denis responsible for video editing the campaign, as well as working on some of the motion graphics and animation, but he worked with the other designers to build VFX templates that were capable of being updated on the fly. 

“He’s very proactive when it comes to finding solutions and is never one to sit around wasting time,” says his ‘Twitch January Drop’ coworker Hondo Logan, who is head of production at Color and Motion. 

“He’s also great at working with and coordinating larger teams. When the workload gets split up and everyone has their own job to do, I never have to worry about Denis’s part, I know he’ll always deliver polished work.”

While it’s no surprise that Denis was called in for the project as he is one of the best at what he does, there’s still a little something uniquely special about being tapped to work on the Twitch campaign.

He recalls, “Back in school I was always fascinated by both computers and art, I was always interested in video game development, photography and all that.”

With his long-time interest in video game development the Amazon Twitch job proved to be thoroughly exciting for Denis, but there’s no question that he put in an unfathomable amount of hours developing his craft in order to go from his humble beginnings in Italy to get to where he is in Hollywood today.  

Denis’s career really started to kick off back in 2014 when he landed a competitive internship at Reset, an acclaimed production company founded by Oscar Award nominated director David Fincher (“Se7en,” “The Social Network,” “Gone Girl”) and Dave Morrison (“Oblivion,”  “Gully”). He got his bearings in the industry at Reset where he was responsible for curating treatments to support their directors’ pitches. That early work had him utilizing a range of software such as Premier, Avid, DaVinci Resolve and Autodesk Flame in order to translate the director’s visions from the early storyboard phase right on through to the final editing stages. 

That use of software and being able to translate the director’s vision through the storyboard phase have been integral to his success today. Since his time with Reset, Denis has come to be known as something of  an industry “unicorn,” in layman’s terms– someone who’s an expert in an incredible range of areas. 

Considering that the commercial and film industries rely heavily on the ever-changing world of technology, having such a broad technical skill set like Denis’s has been an advantage that has kept him ahead of the game.

And when Covid hit he was able to adapt better than most, as his established digital career allowed him to remain on the precipice of change as the entire industry shifted towards working online. 

Denis Ogorodov applying his color grading skills behind the scenes

“With technology being the great equalizer, it is more and more possible to achieve professional industry level work from the comfort of your own home, and the current pandemic we are living through has accelerated this process,” he explains.

“Having built a brand of reliability and efficiency has allowed me to work on my own terms before the pandemic, which allowed me to transition to working remotely instead of in-house quite smoothly.”

While the pandemic has proved to be an extremely difficult time for so many, Denis brings a humble and kind-hearted approach in order to support the industry he loves, something that proves him to be the exact kind of creative talent that any media outlet wants to have driving their team. 

He says, “I’m happy to say that I’ve been able to get four of my US colleagues work recently, so it’s nice to be able to give back.”

Having collaborated with so many critically acclaimed filmmakers and global production companies, and led numerous companies to success with his work as a video artist, Denis Ogorodov has made a significant mark on an international level– and we can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.

CREATING A STATE OF THE ART LOOK FOR FLATLINERS

At the end of this month (September 29th in the US) the Cross Creek Pictures/Columbia Pictures distributed drama/horror/sci-fi film Flatliners will open worldwide. Why does Hollywood choose to remake such a film (the original Oscar nominated production was released in 1990)? There are numerous reasons but one of the most prominent is that the ability to tell the story has become better, at least in certain genres; that’s code for technology. There’s no denying that there have always been great artists and professionals creating films but technological advances make the unbelievable more believable. As someone who works in this field as a VFX Coordinator, Jacquelyn Racine is always working with the latest developments. The soon to be released remake of the 1990’s film Flatliners (starring Ellen Page, Diego Luna, and star of the original 90’s film Kiefer Sutherland) has a remarkable look thanks to the work of Racine and her team at Spin VFX. Movie audiences have become savvy in regards to VFX, leaving the professionals who create them with the task of creating exceptional visuals that are somewhat grounded in reality. This is especially challenging within the story of Flatliners with its otherworldly settings. The mediator at the heart of this is Jacquelyn Racine.

Spin VFX is a large-scale visual effects studio in Toronto. One of the top three companies which most L.A. based networks outsource their work to, it has over 100 employees working on up to/over 20 projects at a time. As a VFX Coordinator at Spin VFX, Jacquelyn oversaw three groups of artists, assessing strengths and assigning work according to deadlines. Perhaps more than any other professional around her, the human aspect was paramount. The director’s vision needed to be communicated clearly and manifested by those whose individual skill set best met the need. The very nature of the art being created for the film necessitated a two-way street in communication with Jacquelyn as the roundabout.

The look of the film is not the only difference from the original. The new production has a markedly more supernatural turn on the idea of the afterlife that was investigated in the 90’s story. Technological advancements in cinema have made this a much more viable course. When each of the characters in the film go into their ‘flatline’, they enter an alternate universe with magical components. These paranormal experiences follow them back to reality and haunt them in everyday life. The students push themselves so close to the limits of human life that they almost kill themselves to chase a high of the unusual alternate reality. The 2017 film uses the idea of the original as more of a starting point. The work of Spin VFX empowered the filmmakers to take the idea much further than before. It is meant to be a separate film even though it’s a remake. The characters are different and it takes place in modern day, meaning that the same initial aspects remain the same but the overall look can change and has given the story a different bent.

While the flatline experiences were hinted at in the 90’s film, VFX allows them to be deeply explored and displayed in this new version. In this rendition of Flatliners, the visual effects play an integral role, essentially becoming another character within the film as they help direct the plot. A deliberate vagueness makes it hard to differentiate between reality and the ‘flatline’ in a number of scenes. The result of this is that the audience becomes somewhat disoriented in a similar way to the characters in the film. Jacquelyn worked with her team and the filmmakers to develop a look for each of the characters’ ‘flatline’ world based on their history. Some are meant to be ethereal and beautiful while others are enhanced versions of reality. The VFX in the film adds a visual spectacle to a unique story that would otherwise be quite sad.

The work of Racine and her team at Spin VFX is not as simple as just sitting down at a monitor and using software and…Voila, everything looks amazing! From the very beginning, the producers and directors of a film like Flatliners understand the visual needs of their story are great. Racine and Spin VFX were heavily involved in the previsualization meetings that took place before shooting. This included creating mock-ups of some of the more complicated sequences. They created a blocking for the actors and production team members to use on set for complex camera movement scenes (often involving the use of a techno dolly). Bringing a simplified video example on set can help the director understand and perhaps alter the way they choose to shoot a given scene. Jacquelyn was in charge of overseeing all the work being brought on set and ensuring it was completed on time and on schedule. She explains, “The animation team at Spin VFX, with my management and the VFX Supervisor’s direction, created previsualization videos to give guidance to the team on set. It included a bird’s eye view and camera view of the set, actors, and equipment on location. We used software called ‘Maya’ to create a fully computer generated version of what they were seeing in real life. It demonstrated where the camera would need to be placed to perform the required camera movement. It also included each set piece placed to scale (based on location measurements), so it was a realistic depiction of the production. The video was played for the director and DP to determine whether their vision could be achieved in the space or not. We discovered that the actors would need to be relocated since the camera would interact with them. This was something we wanted to avoid, so we rearranged the placement of the elements in the video and demonstrated the new version to the director. This ensured that when they got on set to shoot the sequence it was clear what needed to be done, and no time was wasted.”

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Spin VFX’s Wes Sewell professes, “It was my distinct pleasure to work with Jacquelyn on the feature film Flatliners. We worked closely together at Spin VFX with the animation, effects, and tracking departments. With Jacquelyn’s oversight, we developed a previsualization system for the film. Her excellent and precise management of these teams of artists made it possible to deliver the on-set materials within a tight schedule. It’s not only her knowledge and abilities, it’s that I know I can trust her to keep everything moving. It always gives me comfort to know she’s there. Every success is built on the talent of those involved but also on their commitment and reliability; Jacquelyn is a master of all these.”