Five Questions: Peter Vazquez, VFX Supervisor, Keep Me Posted
A lot of bandwidth—and breath—has been spent in the past several weeks debating the health of the visual effects industry. And while there is plenty of gloom and doom to go around, there are also a few bright spots, lens flares and bokehs of optimism, if you will. StudioDaily contributor Peter Plantec points to episodic visual effects as one such area of hope, and a place like FotoKem subsidiary Keep Me Posted is on the front lines of VFX for television. Peter Vazquez, a DP and veteran VFX supervisor known for his visual effects cinematography on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and CSI: Miami and for his VFX work on Eli Stone, Grey’s Anatomy and Vegas, joined KMP in August. He is now in the timely and potentially rewarding position of unifying his larger company's VFX pipeline while keeping true to KMP's task of expanding and streamlining its visual effects for television services. We asked him how he plans to do it and what the practical and less tangible benefits of his job will be as a result.
Q: You've been tasked, in your role at KMP, with streamlining FotoKem's network of VFX services across the pipeline. What's the first thing you need to do?
A: All of FotoKem’s companies (KMP, SPY in San Francisco and Santa Monica, Margarita Mix/LA Studios) are interconnected via a private network. To fully take advantage of this infrastructure and extend FotoKem’s capabilities, I will continue to integrate processes by reviewing, evaluating and designing cohesive methods that take advantage of each facility’s strengths. The plans we are putting into place will make KMP an even more powerful option for producers and creatives. Taking a project from script breakdown to finishing with the most efficient turnaround and superior product is an enduring goal for us here at FotoKem and its subsidiaries.
Q: Will you be making any big software or hardware purchases as a result, and if so, what's at the top of your list?
A: I’m looking into further development of the size of our render farm, as well as expansion of software such as Nuke, Maya, and After Effects into our workstations. The goal is to expand KMP's existing capabilities by providing the artists with the tools they need to strengthen our ability to deliver. FotoKem has always prioritized its investments in talent and technology to support the creative community.
Q: What's the state of episodic VFX from your vantage point?
A: Over the last few years I've actually seen a significant decline of VFX in episodic TV, in part due to the state of the economy but also as a result of the types of shows being produced today. The budgets are tighter and that translates to VFX being left out because neither the time nor cost to create them falls within the needs of production. As such, our challenge is to make feature film VFX accessible to episodic television, to try to undo some of that trend. Our goal is to design shots that can be done on the quick turnaround of an episodic schedule as well as create them within the production's budget. That's why I am a strong proponent of having a VFX supervisor on set. This helps assure that the shots are done correctly from the get-go, allowing the artists to focus on the creative aspects of the shots rather than fixing them.
Q: If you could choose one thing—commercial, TV show, film, art work, technology or something unrelated to the industry—that has inspired you in the past year, what would it be?
A: The ongoing intersection of art and technology never ceases to amaze me. I’m inspired by the ways we can take the latest software, marry it with creative expertise, and deliver something new and amazing that allows for expanded flexibility on the production side of projects, as well as post-production endeavors and deliverables.
Q: What's the most rewarding aspect of your job?
A: I really enjoy seeing the reaction of a client when we deliver something they thought would be impossible on their budget and schedule. And when we are able to show them something fantastic, gaining their trust that we'll do the best that we can and work with them to make their vision a reality. The connection and design of the FotoKem facilities empowers collaboration; when there are tight turnarounds, creative changes and advancing deliveries, this brings added value to the creative process.