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October 2016

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CW SUPERHEROES 29 POST OCTOBER 2016 we'll create tornadoes, spaceships, space stations, planes — it really varies week by week." Here, Kevorkian (who has also directed a few episodes of The Flash) speaks exclusively with Post about his work on these hit CW shows. I watch The Flash, Supergirl, all of these CW shows and I'm trying to wrap my head around the fact that you work on three out of the four of them — there's a lot going on there. "I try to wrap my head around that every single day, Linda (laughs). Look, the truth of the matter is, I have a huge team that supports me, between the VFX producers here at Encore and the 130 artists that we have. There's a lot of support that makes it all happen — it's not a one-man show." Since The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl are now all CW shows, is there any mandate for the effects or the various look of each show to be similar? "I think they all have their individual identities. Obviously, when we do crossover episodes with certain characters, that look stays the same. But other than that, I think they all have their own tone as a show and I think the effects kind of mimic that." Any type of direction you got early on from producers regarding how the effects should look or what they should accomplish on The Flash? "When we were first working on The Flash, we were trying to decide how we wanted to show him. That was the number one directive — do we just show him as something that pops from one place to another as a speedster or do we actually build a digital double where you really do see him at those moments? Obviously, we chose the latter — where we did build a really good-looking digital double so we could have those stylistic shots of going into his world where things slow down and we can really see him. And there are also these big sequences where he's fighting someone on top of a rooftop or jumping from building to building. Those were all things that really evolved after the pilot and after we knew what we were capable of doing. I want to believe that some of the stories were written based on what can be done well visually." How did you decide on how to show the Flash's speed? "It was based a lot on what worked during the pilot and then figuring things out like, 'Okay, this is how we get into the scene, we do that big over- head shot of him running through the city before he arrives somewhere and then cut down low to a city street and having him whoosh by before he settles. It's all about pacing and how you tell the story. It was based on what worked visually that led us in that direction." What were some of the bigger VFX sequences from Season 2? "We obviously had some larger episodes through- out the season. We had a big Grodd episode, and a King Shark episode that we did last year. I think Episode 4 was a big Firestorm episode. Finding a new Firestorm before he went on to Legends…and the finale was pretty big with a showdown with Zoom. So there were a lot of big episodes where we had to create complete environments that had to match practical locations and with epic speed- ster fights where we wrapped regular time into slow motion." How did you establish the look of Supergirl flying? Was that a difficult effect? "It wasn't inherently difficult because flying is fly- ing. The difficult aspect with Supergirl is you have to simulate her hair and her cape. If you simulate it with real world physics the hair flops all over the place, so it's about finding the balance between reflecting how fast she's going but keeping the visuals elegant. It's a shot-by-shot basis of what works well and what doesn't. In the beginning we did tests on an existing digital double we had, doing flight cycles at different speeds, trying different movements, and figuring out what things seemed to work and were visually pleasing. We also did tests with cape and hair simulations; just a bunch of R&D before we started shooting the show to see what would work and what would be pleasing to look at." What are some of the more challenging or key/ signature effects on Supergirl? "Supergirl's digital double is always challenging because of the cape and hair aspect. We also have one character, Martian Manhunter played by David Harewood, who is sometimes all CG and sometimes just a CG head replacement. Depending on the shot, a lot of times David is in a suit but it's his head, so we replace that with the martian head. Other times he's completely CG depending on what he's doing. That's something we do often ever since we intro- duced that character. There are no prosthetics used at all, no makeup, the head is all CG. We've also done full-CG creatures that I think we've pulled off — fully CG characters like aliens, and lots of digital double work for villains so they could do things that would not be otherwise possible. This season we have new CG characters coming based on the comic books." How are the teams broken up, by show? "Yes and no. I can tell you that we do have an ani- mation lead for Supergirl, an animation lead for The Flash, an animation lead for Legends — it doesn't mean at any given time he or she won't hop onto another show to help out. All the artists pretty much work on all the shows. They have their spe- cialties, so you go to them, depending on what their specialty is. We pretty much have the same pipeline as you would have at any other large, visual effects facility — you have your tracking department, L&R department, animation department, modeling de- partment, comp department, etc. So, for example, our modelers don't work on one show. Let's say one guy is really good at creatures. We make sure he always does our creatures. One guy might be really good at hard surface models, like a space ship or a car or a plane, so depending on what a show needs, that's where we use him." What are your key software tools? "We use 3D Studio Max, Maya for animation, Nuke for compositing, SynthEyes for tracking and V-Ray for rendering." What would you consider to be a real technical achievement on any of the shows? "I think we found a way to bring comic books to life. We do mimic comic book panels that are kind of iconic. Last year, when Supergirl did the cross- over with Flash, her next to Flash before they take off to race, there's a cover like that with Flash and Superman in one of the comics. So, I think a lot of the effects we do is try to mimic, try to bring those panels alive. Not necessarily copying them, but design our shots similar to how you would see them in a comic book panel. "We're lucky to have the team we have. Everyone's really enthusiastic and loves what they do. It doesn't feel like work. It's stressful, but we try to have fun. That's how we do it. Our fuel is fun." D.C.'s Legends of Tomorrow

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