Zero VFX company
talking about creation hidden visual effects
ZERO VFX creates photoreal visual effects and finishing services for commercials and feature films.
ZERO’s reputation is built upon executing impeccable creative work, supported by a technologically sophisticated pipeline. ZERO challenges its artists to bring their unique creativity to each project, crafting the overall picture while also focusing on the creation of beautiful images, frame by frame.
Co-Founder Zero VFX, ZYNC Render
Black Mass featured a variety of invisible effects.
How many of your artists worked on the project and what kind of tools did the team prefer to use?
We had about 25-30 people from our team involved in the show. Our character team sat this one out as it was a composite heavy project. We had tons of 2.5D environment work, CG trees, DMP and other environmental effects that our CG and art department was able to dig into.
Zero VFX reel
Did you work with concept artists? How did their work help you to improve the final shot or to find alternative solutions throughout the project?
Our internal art department was definitely responsible for re-landscaping and re-designing a decent amount of environments. It ranged from helping to change locations (Massachusetts standing in for Florida), time of year (addition of falling and accumulated snow, denude trees), period inconsistencies (lamp posts, newer building replacement, and more) or full background replacements where we re-imagined the environment FG action was taking place in.
Black Mass VFX behind the scene
What was your team’s biggest challenge during the Black Mass project?
I think the challenge was to faithfully reproduce the tone and tenor of the story-telling in the environmental shots. The shot in particular where Whitey is driving and was shot in early summer - we executed a full replacement of the exterior environment, changing the season to winter- fully denuding trees and adding landscape that was previously obscured.
The background is literally entirely CG, but you’d never in a million years know this. It’s the kind of work that speaks to our facilities roots so it’s really great to see us be able to tackle this work routinely and with exceedingly high quality.
There is an amazing atmosphere in each scene. Did you use references to create these scenes and what were they?
We always believe that starting off from real is best. So we sent a member of our plate team to photograph both the actual locations and references for what we wanted them to look like. In some cases, we had the luck that the actual location, and when our photographers were there, coincided with the desired season the shot takes place in, so the reference ended up in the final shot - it was great!
How did the Black Mass project affect your team when the film was completed?
In general, we love to take an afternoon off (it gets harder and harder though) in order to see our movies screen. In this instance we rented the whole theater and packed it with friends, family and clients. It was a great moment to really see what the team had achieved in the way it’s supposed to be: within a community of people sitting in the dark, watching a story being told. It was especially impactful as the story itself, about a notorious Boston crime boss, made us feel like we had participated in a bit of history making for the region.