Character effects company MastersFX (MFX) has been nominated for a Visual Effects Society (VES) award in the category outstanding visual effects in a visual effects-driven photoreal/live action broadcast program for its work on season 2 of the Netflix horror/thriller series Hemlock Grove. The VES Awards will be held on Feb. 4 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.
The MFX team is comprised of Matt Whelan, Chris Brown, Johnathan Banta, Eric McAvoy and Todd Masters, who is lead artist and president of MFX.
MFX pioneered several new approaches for Hemlock Grove to create an amped-up level of FX for the show’s second season. The company created several updates of classic monsters, including vampires, shape-shifters and mutated humanoids, as well as an iconic werewolf metamorphosis. The company’s two studios – in L.A. and Vancouver, B.C. – each has developed pipelines to bring their practical art and digital methodologies together.
“What is noteworthy about our VES award nomination this year is the mixing of onset makeup FX with our in-house digital techniques,” said Masters. “We were able to present a ‘real’ werewolf’s snout emerging out of ‘real’ actor Landon Liboiron. We call this technique dMFX or digital makeup FX. This is the first time the Visual Effects Society has recognized this type of work, which has captured our industry’s imagination.”
“With the success of several practical FX heavy projects – The Walking Dead, The Grand Budapest Hotel and Interstellar – filmmakers are renewing the value and the use of physical FX instead of just CG solutions,” noted Masters. “Even J. J. Abram’s new Star Wars movie touts their use of practical effects.”
Masters and his team have been offering client filmmakers the choice of integrating practical FX into their projects for nearly 30 years and have found resurgence in this art form recently.
“When you have multiple mixed-media solutions available, you can flexibly tailor each project to its own specific needs, for budget, schedule and a realism that’s right for its particular requirements,” added Andre Bustanoby, VFX supervisor at MFX. “The old saying, ‘If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail,’ is not how we work. How we mix and blend practical and digital FX is not dissimilar to music. There was a time when synthesized sound was all the rage, but we all got tired of that processed, soulless feeling. Like practical FX is now doing, music evolved back to a more authentic and relatable experience, with real instruments and renewed soul. Much like our organic makeup FX work, digital tools are an instrument that accompanies others and helps us blend the magic without losing performance or personality.”