LFG: We all see the VFX on the show and wonder how all that comes together. With that said, what does a day in the life of a VFX I/O Coordinator look like?
AW: It looks pretty fabulous. A lot of rich blues, deep greens, and a fleck or two of gold.
Really there are some things that occur daily such as backing up camera footage from the previous photography day, eating a chicken and bacon sandwich with extra bacon, getting the dailies (circled takes from the previous day) into my Avid workstation, and drinking copious amounts of coffee; other than those expected affairs of the average day things tend to be fairly variant.
I need to keep our cuts updated and organized, make sure the artists have up to date media, show the Supervisor shots as they are completed, prepare proof-of-concept clips for email, work on demo reels for internal use or upload, finalize and consolidate episodes as they air, and numerous other rewarding tasks.
LFG: What was the driving force that led you to become involved with VFX?
AW: Ever since I was young I have been a big fan of film and mostly the visual effects. I saw Star Wars as a youth and was instantly curious how they managed to make light sabres glow. It wasn’t until I got to meet George Lucas at 12yrs old that anyone could explain a bit of the magic behind the screen. I got to tour his early facility then and as well a few years later when I was 16. By this point I had already been making my own puppets and models of spaceships and other wacky scifi vehicles, and George showed me how they can bring the illusion of internal lighting, laser cannons, and people inside windows.
When I saw Supernatural for the first time in season one I was blown away. I loved how great the visual effects looked and when I found out that it was a local Vancouver company contracted to work the visuals I sought them out. For financial reasons I couldn’t leave my position at NASA just yet, but when the opportunity arrived to join the Supernatural VFX department in Season 4 I jumped on it.
The real twist in the whole story is that none of it is true. I never cared for Star Wars, was not interested in film at all as a youth but rather music, I never met Lucas, and I didn’t join SPN in Season 4. But it makes for a better story.
LFG: You have been with SPN crew for quite some time now, what is so unique about this environment?
AW: For me it is extremely unique because it is my first job in film. How it is unique in comparison to other shows, or in my case other VFX facilities, is totally beyond me. Hopefully it is more awesome so I am not inadvertently missing out on better opportunities simply because I am not aware of them. (I kid)
LFG: What percentage of an episode has VFX work that we, as viewers, may not initially realize is VFX?
AW: It changes episode to episode, but it’s a good 25% easy. The episode that aired prior to my typing this (S10E13) had more than usual with around 40% of all shots we did being totally invisible where the audience has no reason to suspect it is VFX. These are logo removals, equipment paint outs, background paint outs, prop modifications, etc.
LFG: What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
AW: The most challenging aspect for me is to keep track of shots, changes, versions, and making sure all T’s are crossed and I’s are dotted. It’s 90% organization, 9% redundant task, and 1% creative. That 1% consists of the demo reels I upload to vimeo that I get the pleasure of editing and sometimes color grading.
LFG: What other productions have you worked on?
AW: I “worked” on Misha Collins’ TSA project, and that is the only endeavor I am credited with.
LFG: Is there a favorite VFX that you have coordinated that stands out above the rest?
AW: I think burning Abaddon in the church stands out as exemplary TV visual effects, but the credit for that is not mine.
LFG: What has been the most difficult VFX effect coordinated so far?
AW: There really aren’t effects more difficult to coordinate than others, at least in so far as IO coordination, which is aka IO editing. Sometimes it’s challenging but it’s not so much hinged on what effect has to go into a shot, but rather what plates (clips) go into it and how easy they are to understand on sight.
It’s difficult to communicate because the reader would need to see an episode’s timeline and understand how clips are stacked and effected in order to reach a desired look in Avid. Suffice to say sometimes deciphering the clips on a timeline is not as easy as it sounds and can feel more like forensics than editorial.
LFG: What has been the biggest benefit to you working on a show like Supernatural?
AW: The biggest benefit for me is the opportunities I have here to learn from others. Film is a ‘who you know’ thing and I was fortunate enough to know someone to get my foot into this door. But now that I am here I am focused more on ‘what you know’ and learn everything I can. Eventually I will move on and ‘who you know’ will be important again, but until I know enough to be confident in my abilities in a given field I would rather buckle down and use this opportunity to learn.
LFG: Are there any charitable or special causes that you support?
AW: Vancouver Children’s Hospital would be my numero uno, but I also like the Shiner’s Hospitals because they will treat kids from around the world in their facilities.
LFG: Besides driving all your followers insane on Twitter, what are your hobbies or interests outside of your work?
AW: Learning is probably my most permanent hobby. I don’t read quite as much as I used to but I still like to bury my head into something nerdy. These days it is mostly film-industry related. I also enjoy playing music but it’s again something I have not been doing a lot of. Working long days and living in a high rise prevents a lot of noise making, but I hope to get back into it in the future.
I love the sun and being outside and take every opportunity I can to vegetate on a beach in the sun or go for a nice hike in the bush. A lot of my creativity and ideas percolate to the surface of my noggin when I am outside and enjoying the sun, fresh air, and a light inebriation.
A hobby I have recently taken up is designing “fantasy and fandom” wares that I sell through my webstore “Fantomware.com”. It is pretty empty at the moment while I overhaul the site’s format, but in just a couple months my lovely girlfriend Lucy (@SpnUK) and I have done around a dozen designs for it.
And last, but not least in the way of effort, I have been assimilated into the borg-mind known as GISHWHES. I formed a team (Sewshigh) for 2014 with my girl and a few close friends and we kicked ass. It was a lot of fun amidst the hard labor and tears of madness, and I look forward to entering again in 2015 with most of the members we had in 2014. Go Team Sewshigh!
Check out some of the cool stuff Adam has put together by the VFX department!
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Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/BullitTheJedi
Twitter – @adamwvfx
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Tumblr – http://theadamwilliams.tumblr.com/
IMDB – http://www.imdb.com/name/nm5244907/
Vimeo (SPN Demo reels) – https://vimeo.com/user18048128
Youtube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrMOJbyfdXks-JXA7y_ndCg
Personal Website (music and poetry) – http://adamw.ca