Los Angeles-based Zoic Studios, along with motion-capture specialists at Motion Analysis Studios (MAS) and Nexus Digital Studios, have created the epic effects for the show finale of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, airing May 20, 2003 at 8:00 pm on UPN. Zoic co-founder Loni Peristere has been working closely with BUFFY creator Joss Whedon since the first season. Along with his Zoic Studios and fellow digital effects supervisor Patti Gannon, Peristere and Whedon have been batting around ideas for the historic last episode for months. For Buffy's battle with hundreds of demons, Peristere and crew are combining CGI with miniatures and enlisted Emmy-winning visual effects supervisor/producer Ron Thornton to bring the models to life.
"Whenever I can, I like to use miniatures in addition to CGI to enhance the realism of the shot," Peristere commented. "Though I can't get into specifics, let's just say that we feel we will be taking up the high-action effects sequences fans have come to expect from the show up another notch."
To help with epic final clash, Zoic hired motion capturing firms Motion Analysis Studios and Nexus Digital Studios to help out. Peristere said, "The team at Motion Analysis Studios and Nexus delivered mocap data quickly and accurately. Their 'can do' attitude was critical in Zoic's being able to design and create sequences which -- in our view -- are among the most complex ever developed for a one-hour television show."
With the mocap data provided by Motion Analysis and Nexus, Zoic artists could create battle scene with hundreds of demons without having to go through the time consuming process of animating each villain individually. In addition, the Motion Capture firms also provided head and body scans of actor James Marsters, who plays vampire Spike, for a special transformation sequence. Nexus Digital uses Cyberware Laser scanners for their head and body work.
"For the Buffy shoot, it was critical that Zoic receive accurate skeletal data as quickly as possible, in order for them to focus on the photo-realistic shots needed to create the superior level of effects for the finale," said Jeff Swenty, head of production for Motion Analysis Studios. "This kind of project is incredibly fun for us to work on because we get to help bring one of the most popular television series of our time to its climactic ending."
Peristere added, "Having the time and support from Joss and his team to create an epic final Buffy is literally a dream come true. It's great that Zoic will be part of television history!"
Launched in 2002 by executive producer Steve Schofield, and creative directors Chris Jones and Peristere, Zoic Studios is a visual effects and CG animation house for the commercials, music videos, feature film and episodic television industries. Their credits include TV's ANGEL, TWILIGHT ZONE and FIREFLY, in addition to music videos for Linkin Park, DMX and Mudvayne. You may find out more about them at www.zoicstudios.com. Founded in 1999, Culver City, California-based Motion Analysis Studios provides animators and directors from feature films, music videos, television, games and commercials with Motion Capture service. Find out more about them at www.motionanalysisstudios.com. Also based in Culver City, Nexus Digital Studios is a fully equipped scanning and digitizing facility. Check them out at www.nexusdigitalstudios.com.