For visual effects supervisor Wayne Brinton, the secret to doing great work is great relationships. That means that the first task in every job is to put a face to the name. Not only does work move more smoothly that way, but for Brinton, even a short period of time together on set can save days of work back at the studio.
"Everything starts and ends with people," said Brinton. "Sure, you can talk about a project over the phone, but clients only really get to know you, and the skills you bring to their film, when they meet you and see you in action. The dynamic changes from a business relationship into a working partnership. That's why it's important for me to interact directly with our clients in Hollywood."
The most recent example of this came with Brinton's work on the set of Parker, starring Jason Statham and Jennifer Lopez. Until Brinton was able to visit the director, producers and editor in Los Angeles, he was just a voice on the other end of the line and Modus FX was a facility in a faraway place.
"I went down to LA and met with the director, Taylor Hackford, the postproduction supervisor, Lisa Dennis and their team. I introduced myself, told them about Modus, and explained how we'd approach the work. Once you've met, and are comfortable with each other, you can do anything."
"Wayne's style of dealing with people captures the way Modus approaches work with our clients," said Yanick Wilisky, co-founder and VP production at Modus FX. "They have to have faith, not only in the quality of work coming out of the studio, but in the people who work here. With Wayne, they quickly gain confidence that he will support them to do their job on set and that Modus will deliver the work the way they want it."
Being On Set Means Saving Time
On set, Brinton can see live what's being shot and what the CG artists will be working with. Since he knows the visual effects tasks exactly, he can anticipate challenges before they happen. Sometimes it might take five extra minutes to reshoot something, but it can save days of CG work. This happened with their work on Parker, where Modus worked with the second unit.
"A few of the shots were bigger than they had anticipated,"
One gruesome scene in Parker shows a hand being stabbed. The original plan called for doing the whole shot with a prosthetic hand, but Brinton could see it wasn't going to end up looking realistic enough without a real hand.
"I explained that they could shoot the actor's hand instead and then use the prosthesis only to show the knife being pulled out," Brinton said. "Then we could take the blade, the wound and blood spurting out, and comp it onto the real hand. I could only do this by being on set. I'm guessing we saved three days of compositing on this shot alone."
The Path to VFX Supervisor
Brinton started out as a junior compositor in Toronto in 1997, before beginning an eight year stint at Hybride in 1999. There he worked on such high-profile projects as Art of War, the Spy Kids franchise and 300. His supervising career began when he moved to the Montreal office of Mr. X where he provided on-set supervision for Beastly and was VFX supervisor for the facility's work on Source Code, which was nominated for a VES award. Then, in 2011, he joined Modus FX, where his first job was as VFX supervisor on Mirror Mirror.
"Modus was called in to help out on Mirror Mirror and we had only eight weeks to do almost 200 shots," Brinton said. "The most rewarding part of that job was turning out such a large number of shots in such a short time. We accomplished it all without any stress on the company. Everyone worked extra hours, but we came out of it smiling."
In addition to Parker and Mirror Mirror, Brinton served as VFX supervisor for Modus FX on The Avengers and several other Hollywood projects. When on set, Brinton is directly available to the director, watching the video feeds and ensuring that the visual effects shots are optimized for postproduction.
"Generally, we let directors go where they need to go with the story. They're more comfortable and the process is more organic that way. It's my responsibility to make sure we get shots that we can work with and I use my judgment about when to step in. This is where the trust and the personal relationship come in. We're there to support the creative process."
"If we present a new idea to a client, it's my job as VFX supervisor to show them how we can do it and why it will work," Brinton said.
"We brought Wayne on board, not only for his technical gifts as a compositor, but for the way he deals with people," said Marc Bourbonnais, co-founder and president of Modus FX. "He's able to bring his team with him to produce high-quality work and is supportive of our clients throughout the project."
"As a facility Modus is moving quickly toward being in control of the visual effects for entire projects, which is the way I like to work," Brinton said. "As we take on more and more of the visual effects supervision on projects, the studios and production companies are seeing how well it works, and how much more efficiently we can deliver their shots. We enjoy this level of interaction with the client, and the projects benefit greatly from having a better pipeline. Ultimately everyone wins that way."
Directed by Taylor Hackford, Parker stars Jason Statham, Jennifer Lopez and Nick Nolte. The film saw theatrical release on Jan. 25, 2013.
About Modus FX
Since launching in 2007, Modus FX has become an industry leader in high-end feature film visual effects, boasting an international clientele and a talented team of handpicked artists from around the globe. Led by co-founders Marc Bourbonnais and Yanick Wilisky, Modus has developed a unique approach to creating digital effects, combining a cutting-edge production pipeline with personalized ongoing project coordination. The studio collaborates with each director through the artistic process, from the editorial script and on-set supervision to final delivery. Based just outside Montreal, Modus offers a full scope of services in its modern 12,000-square-