Episode 238 — Corridor Crew

Episode 238 — Corridor Crew

Corridor Digital is Visual Effects Studio based in Los Angeles. They’re best know for creating short-form viral videos, as well as producing and directing the web series Rush and YouTube Red’s Lifeline. The company has also create tv commercials for companies like Google and Machine Zone.

Founded in 2009 by Sam Gorski and Niko Pueringer, the company now produces five YouTube Channels. The Corridor Digital Channel alone has 7 million subscribers. It has won awards at several Streamys, including the “Visual and Special Effects Award” in 2017. Their second channel Corridor Crew consists of behind-the-scenes content and has over 3 million subscribers. In 2019, Sam Gorski co-authored Top 10 Games You Can Play In Your Head, By Yourself.

In this Podcast, Allan McKay interviews the Corridor Digital Co-Founder Niko Pueringer and Video Director Wren Weichman about the origins of the company, the importance of having the business mentality, the value of creative control and the stories behind some of their viral videos.

Allan McKay on Corridor Digital’s VFX Artists React: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0TwGKcrtGmQ&feature=youtu.be

Corridor Digital on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsn6cjffsvyOZCZxvGoJxGg

Corridor Crew on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/corridorcrew

Corridor Digital Website: https://www.corridordigital.com/

Corridor Digital on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/corridordigital/

Corridor Cast Podcast: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNSeDrWRGxx5p2l3tj7RWQw

Corridor Digital on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/corridor-digital/about/

Lifeline on YouTube Red: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLVK1Q9ppZiaDDkrG2pBaXFdVd0Tva6ymm

The Guillotine Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCb8ewylk7d2M_1dLGEiFmuQ

Node on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/Node

HIGHLIGHTS

[04:45] Introduction of Niko Pueringer and Wren Weichman
[05:33] Beginnings of Corridor Digital
[10:47] Niko Talks About the Business Mentality
[15:44] On the Nature of Creativity
[18:11] Niko and Wren Share the Inspiration and Process for Bosstown
[22:35] Deepfakes and the Inspiration for “Keanu Reeves Stops a Robbery”
[24:31] The Story Behind “We Made the Best Deepfake Video on the Internet”
[30:02] Working with Dwayne Johnson on Lifetime
[33:21] Allan, Niko and Wren Talk About the Importance of Creative Control
[36:44] Niko and Wren Share the Story Behind Visual Artist React
[44:10] How Corridor Digital Chooses Its Projects
[48:17] Niko and Wren Talk New Technology
[59:00] The Corridor Team Give Insight Into Their Production Process
[1:04:00] Additional Information

EPISODE 238 — CORRIDOR CREW

Welcome to Episode 238! This is Allan McKay. I’m chatting with Corridor Crew. You’re familiar with all of their awesome videos: be it VFX Artists React, the Keanu Reeves Deepfake, the Bosstown Dynamics. This is going to be a great one!

I sat down with Niko and Wren. You’ve probably seen them in their YouTube videos. There’s lots that we got into. It’s great to have these guys pursuing their dream while educating others. I thought it’d be fun to talk to them about the history of Corridor Crew and their projects.

Let’s dive in!

FIRST THINGS FIRST:

[00:52] Have you ever sent in your reel and wondered why you didn’t get the callback or what the reason was you didn’t get the job? Over the past 20 years of working for studios like ILM, Blur Studio, Ubisoft, I’ve built hundreds of teams and hired hundreds of artists — and reviewed thousands of reels! That’s why I decided to write The Ultimate Demo Reel Guide from the perspective of someone who actually does the hiring. You can get this book for free right now at www.allanmckay.com/myreel!

[03:23] I have a new free VFX training available right now. Eight hours of free training, you will have the scene, the footage files. It’s a brand new training as of March 2020. It’s a building destruction with Phoenix FD. We’ll be going through a real production pipeline. I have not seen training like this out there. I want to take you through the real process. Go to: www.LiveActionVFX.com to download all the material!

[1:06:03] One of the biggest problems we face as artists is figuring out how much we’re worth. I’ve put together a website. Check it out: www.VFXRates.com! This is a chance for you to put in your level of experience, your discipline, your location — and it will give you an accurate idea what you and everyone else in your discipline should be charging. Check it out: www.VFXRates.com!

INTERVIEW WITH CORRIDOR CREW

[04:45] Allan: Alright, guys! Thanks so much for taking the time to chat! Do you want to quickly introduce yourselves?

Niko: Yeah, I’m Niko.

Wren: I’m Wren. The end. We’re from Corridor. Corridor Digital. If you haven’t checked us out, see our YouTube Channel.

[04:56] Allan: You also have a Podcast. It’s really weird to be in your studio, using your gear to record my Podcast.

Niko: Basically, we’re VFX artists but also content creators on YouTube. We make videos. We try to keep them entertaining.

Wren: Since Allan brought up our Podcast: Hey, guys! If you like listening to Podcasts, check out the Corridor Cast where we talk about some cool things like futurology and other crazy concepts that make for good conversation.

Niko: Starting off the Podcast with a plug!

[05:33] Allan: I’ve actually listened to a bit of one on the flight over. I love Freddie Wong, I had him on my Podcast (www.allanmckay.com/92). You guys are avid filmmakers. Niko, you’re a Co-Founder of the Company. How did you get started?

Niko: If you go way, way back, the junior high school where I went had a program called Independent Computer Studies. There wasn’t a teacher per se. You just studied the computer on your own, things like iMovie, or iDVD. This was cutting edge at the time. At that time, I wanted to be a pyro technician and blow stuff up for movies. That was my dream job. Being 14 years old, no one was giving me explosives; [so] I decided to do explosions on the computer.

[06:57] Allan: Can I just interrupt and say, I was like 11 when I started blowing stuff up.

Niko: It wasn’t until college that I learned how to make a gas fire ball. We got all that figured out. Brandon was in a music video that had fireballs and he talked to the pyro guys. We went and bought a bunch of black powder. Anyway, I won’t get into the details…

Wren: So anyway, this is how you make a bomb!

Niko: I met Sam a year or two before, but our paths crossed again then. He was also a huge computer nerd and his parents ran a digital news company that got bought by CNN. So his parents had After Effects, Final Cut Pro, they had a Canon GL1 which was a wonderful camera. We also discovered Alam DV which is an amateur FX program. But that’s what got us going. We could our own Matrix lobby scene. [08:37] As a filmmaker, you want to get people’s emotions going. You want to get reactions from an audience. It’s always been easier to get a reaction from a spectacle, as opposed to a really good dramatically acted scene. But then there was a turning point in college when I realized I had to learn to write if I wanted to make movies.

That eventually transformed to us being out here in LA, doing freelance VFX and production. And that transformed to our having a YouTube Channel because we could apply a lot of the cool stuff we learned to making videos that people would want to watch. That’s how Sam and I got our start, that got us to Corridor. Wren, why don’t you tell your story?

Wren: I feel like my background is the opposite. I didn’t even start messing with effects until I was 20 years old. This was around 2009. I’d done a little bit of editing before then. But it wasn’t until I was almost done with college — I was getting an engineering degree at that time — that I discovered that I wanted to make YouTube videos. Corridor and Freddie were my biggest inspirations for: How do I do this? I moved to LA and we started working together. I was doing behind-the-scenes stuff and then I graduated to doing the main Channel stuff. But back then it was the main Channel. My background was very technical. I had no training in the traditional creative arts or storytelling. Everything I learned was from what I was reading online and what I learned from you, guys, in person. From those two things, you can get so far in life.

[10:47] Allan: You, guys, are pretty young. For you to build a company, was it intimidating? Or was it a natural progression?

Niko: Definitely! This year, we had that reaction a lot.

Wren: But at the same time, there was a lot of small little jumps that only look like big jumps when you’re looking back over the course of the years.

Niko: There is still that barrier between Hollywood and what we do. We might end up doing long-form narrative stuff but definitely the digital space is different. I attribute a lot of the business sense [to this]: When I was growing up, my parents were divorced. Every other weekend, I would go see my dad and the car ride was about an hour long. My dad was running a couple of different businesses. He and my uncle, for example, ran a couple of Taco John’s (which is a Taco Bell equivalent). He would talk to me and explain the business decisions he was making and the challenges he was facing. For him, it was a chance to process all this stuff, but I was ingesting his approach to business. The biggest takeaway is simple: Don’t spend more money than you have.

[12:50] Allan: Which is very difficult when you are buying camera gear.

Niko: It is! Today, in the business world, you’re told that the way to make money is to go into debt and take out loans. And somehow, that will help you make money. A lot of people are doing that venture capital game. They don’t care if the business goes bankrupt. In reality, I want to do something I really enjoy for the rest of my life. Money only brings you happiness at 70K per year. Once you cross that line, what brings you happiness changes. So there is that acknowledgement that what brings me happiness is not how much money I make — it’s the stuff I do. In terms of running this business, we’ve grown it really slowly. We made sure to work with our friends and people we respect; and by being really clear and equals. You’re going to have to put up content and it has to justify why you’re here. We’ll be transparent about that. Is that what you want to do? There are times when it’s stressful, but there are times we are at that Airsoft Park playing Airsoft games; or on a trip to Portland, as part of our job.

[14:52] Allan: Next time you’re there, look me up!

Niko: We aren’t that big yet. The total company is only 13 people.

Wren: Which for a YouTube Channel is pretty big though.

Niko: That’s true, but technically, we’re four YouTube Channels. Five if you count the Guillotine Channel.

Wren: That’s a good point. We’re an umbrella of Channels.

Niko: We were going to do this [Guillotine Channel] and see if it’s going to work. But we didn’t really want to do it.

Wren: Here is the thing: The Guillotine Channel would be amazing to work on except that we have four other Channels that are taking all of our efforts and time. It’s hard to devote time to this other thing.

[15:44] Allan: Do you think having so many focuses as well as a schedule, how does it play with creativity?

Niko: Creativity is inspired by constraints, in my opinion. It’s also inspired by now being able to fall asleep at 2:00 a.m. I’m a little sad that I don’t get to be as creative as I used to be. Half of my day is helping everyone else at Corridor and the other half — focusing on my own things. But at the same time, I like that too. It’s nice to help guide other people. How about you, Wren?

Wren: I find myself going through weird changes every year. Last year, I got into these science videos where I helped people with things like Nuke perspective. And then I use my VFX experience and being in front of the camera, to help do that. They did pretty well. This year, I’m finding myself interested in that. I want to do more physical projects so I’ve been doing things like 3D printing things. Who knows where that will go? I find myself getting cabin fever if I’m involved with the same project for more than 2-3 weeks. The thing that’s always driven me is, “Is this original? Is this something that no one has done before?” I will often do things that people have done before. But the things that get me most excited are exploring new technologies or techniques that I haven’t seen before. Or if I have seen them, it wasn’t in the most approachable of ways. When we put up a video, it will get a decent audience. I like to do new things and be challenged!

[18:11] Allan: What are you perspectives on main stream media? Like Joe Rogan was talking about Bosstown (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dKjCWfuvYxQ.)

Wren: I though he was joking when he tweeted, “Oh, the robots are fighting back”. But then he said, they got me twice. Wait, we did?!

[18:50] Allan: I posted some student work, this asteroid in Century City. And people were like, “Where is this happening?”

Wren: Just to explain, we’re referencing to videos that we shot last year, parodying Boston Dynamics, the robot company. They have these humanoid robots. We went overboard making fun of their stuff. But we had no illusion that we were fooling people. It got ripped and got uploaded into Twitter. Everyone on Twitter thought it was real. It blew our minds! Celebrities were tweeting about how it’s the end of humanity. Do you not realize is says “Bosstown” in the video itself? That was weird.

[20:19] Allan: Did you get any weird reactions about hitting the robot with a chair?

Wren: Robot cruelty became this talking point around the video.

Niko: There was a professor from Australia who reached out to us about his study on how people empathize with inanimate objects. You happen to have the behind-the-scenes of hitting the robot and hitting the actor.

Wren: I hit Clint with a bottle. The hardest thing was that we were chucking dodge balls at his face as hard as we could. Those are actual impacts hitting him. In the final video, it’s just the robot. But what Niko is saying is that people empathized more with the robot. “It was just a real person getting abused!”

[21:52] Allan: When I lived in Vancouver, near this big homeless area. People cracked the code that other people wouldn’t give them money, but if they had a dog, they would! It’s weird how we prioritize pets over human beings.

Wren: People don’t empathize with people. They empathize with stories. And they empathize with pets.

Niko: It’s hard to empathize with people when there are so many.

Wren: Especially when there is so much tragedy every day, that it dulls our senses. We only have enough emotional output.

[22:35] Allan: If were to dive into a single project, could you talk about “Keanu Stops a Robbery” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3dBiNGufIJw)? How do you come up with a concept [for any video]? Is this about exploiting this technology?

Niko: For those of you who don’t know, it was a video on the Corridor Channel. It’s a video shot on someone’s cellphone. Keanu Reeves stops a robbery in the nicest way possible to swapping places with the hostage. That way the bad guy can get more money. But it was all inspired by Deepfakes. Before that video, we made one that’s called “We Made the Best Deepfake Video on the Internet”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vHvOyZ0GbY. At this point, it’s no longer true.

Wren: Actually, it’s not bad! But I wouldn’t say it’s the best.

Niko: It did something that no video had done. Since we’re in LA, we can hire impersonators. We hired a guy who looks and sounds like Tom Cruise.

[24:31] Allan: I’ve met a few of them! I saw the video. It’s not the same guy as in your video.

Niko: So in Deepfake, your person is going to wear a mask so it doesn’t really matter how much they look like the person. Their head shape and voice needs to match. But the voice is not something you can replicate. We can do that in the A.I.

Wren: So much of the voice is in the performance. Even if you can generate the voice, it’s just talking.

Niko: So we did this Deepfakes as accurate to Tom Cruise as possible. He looks like Tom Cruise and acts as him. It’s not that hard. It was all training for us to make the Keanu video. There were some things we learned, like there is a resolution to Deepfakes. If you zoom in on someone’s face in 10 AP, it’s going to be all blurry. So shoot it in a widescreen effect. If we shoot it on a cellphone, it justifies why it’s never that close to the actor. And it feels more real. Head shape was easy to do with Keanu Reeves because he has hair on the sides of his face. My trick for doing a beard is you take a burnt cork and you draw on your face with it. Then we Deepfaked Keanu Reeves’s face onto him. It’s not the process of putting it on the footage that’s hard. Rendering takes a few minutes. It’s the training of the model that takes a long time. When the computer is learning how to draw the face and how to respond to different lighting conditions. That took 2 weeks. So you’re spending 2 weeks training your computer and then a couple of days pumping out your shots. There is still some compositing techniques that go into it, too.

Wren: But now what’s nice about it is you have the Keanu Reeves model. You have the algorithm model. We can just send new shots and it’ll start pumping out new faces. But to answer your question, what drives a new video, it’s usually the technology. We have this new technique and we don’t know what to do with it yet. We’ll do kind of like a pilot style video. That will live on the Corridor Crew Channel. The Bosstown Dynamics video started with a motion capture suit we got last year. What’s the name of it? Xsens! We’ve never dealt with motion capture before. We tried to contort ourselves into a truck, like the Transformers. At the core of it, it was about learning the new technology. We could make a robot this way. One thing leads to the next. We found that we can write a story around anything. The best stories probably don’t have any bars on them to begin with and the technology greets it. But for us, it’s about thinking about how we’re going to achieve something.

[30:02] Allan: That’s awesome! To segue from there to [Dwayne Johnson], it’s a big deal. You’re getting to the next level. Was that a bit of a shock?

Niko: Honestly? No.

Wren: Well, we didn’t personally deal with him either. Sam did.

Niko: We had 15 minutes with the Rock. This is for Lifeline, a YouTube Red show. We had written a script. His company was helping co-produce it. We had this scene. He was doing a promo piece [in it]. He was so busy and his schedule is so packed! But he is a consummate profession, you will have his focus a 100%. He listens to your feedback, he gives you his performance. But when we sent off the script, they came back with some notes. We thought the notes were taking the edge off. But the Rock comes in and says, “Which one of you guys thought my notes were making this goofy?” We didn’t know that Dwayne Johnson himself was giving us the notes. If you’re in the media long enough and in LA long enough, you cross paths with these people. But they’re brief encounters. It’d be different if he were rehashing something with us. But these guys don’t have the time to do that. The idea of making a Star Wars film. Initially, I would be like, “Heck yeah! I want to do this!” But now, I’d think, “I can’t wait for all of my good ideas to get shot down by the executives and that will ruin the story.” That’s just how the system works!

[33:21] Allan: It’s got to be bankable.

Niko: You can’t take an established I.P. and do something fresh and new with it. It will be sanded down. Good stuff still comes out of that, but I’m not cool with it anymore. It’s sad what Star Wars was; and honestly, George Lucas was trying to make cool stuff all the time. I’m still surprised how high quality Marvel films are considering the politics and the bottom line that rides on that.

[34:40] Allan: I’ve got a lot of friends who’ve gone the feature film route. Some are still doing it and some aren’t. At the end of the day, it’s a bank.

Wren: The biggest advantage for us is that we have creative control. There are times when I want to do something and Niko is like, “No!”

[35:19] Allan: But why is that?

Niko: Well, it’s just the reality of: if you’re going to make something, it has to get views. I’ve been in this game long enough. It’s not a good use of our time.

Wren: And for the record, I do agree with Niko’s decisions on that. But I’ll get attached to some small stupid thing. We still have so much control over what we want to do — and we do it.

Niko: And also, to be fair, there are time when you say, “Screw it! Let’s do it anyways.” Every January, we get to experiment. That’s super important. The 11 months of the year, we get to make other stuff. But that’s the game. If you’re going to make something artsy that only a few people are going to watch, that’s cool! But that’s not a smart business move.

[36:44] Allan: Absolutely! That’s so smart! I have so many friends [who make films], “One for me, one for them.” But at the end of the day, you’re running a business. I’m wondering Home Alone, does that fall into the January category?

Wren: No, that was actually very calculated. Last year, our whole company went through a transformation with the launch of our hit web series Visual Artists React, which was an accidental discovery. It was a one-time video and it did really well. We kept doing that. There is this huge audience online that wants to see interesting uses and context. We tried to redirect them into other videos.

Niko: Our first one was we fixed John Wick’s muzzle flashes.

Wren: Did that come before The Scorpion King?

Niko: No, wait! Then the first one was fixing the worst VFX shot of all time.

[38:15] Allan: I oddly know movie trivia and what went on behind. The whole thing with the Rock sequence in the beginning, it’s Maya Paint Effects. I remember the Director commentary, they didn’t have money for background. They were doing an ambitious film with a recognizable character! We were doing a tsunami in Maya in 2001. I remember one of the guys said, “It’s interesting what ILM can do when they have our budget and our schedule for once!” They were so broke! They were pushing the boundaries.

Wren: I’m always so aware that someone has put a lot of effort to get that shot done. But most people don’t care! So part of my mission is to bring that awareness. But everyone recognizes when it’s a bad shot.

[39:54] Allan: But it’s brilliant what you guys did! You bring up the tech in a shot.

Niko: Fixing the shot with the Rock was that we were criticizing a shot that was made by masters of the industry. Sometimes, this feels weird to be tearing it down, like CLU’s head from Tron. Technologically, it’s groundbreaking but it doesn’t look real! Once again, that’s the groundbreaking, some of the smartest people working in the industry. No one in the industry should get an ego. We have a saying here at Corridor: “No Excuses Filmmaking”. No one cares what your budget was or how little time you had. If it’s good, it’s good. If it’s bad — it’s bad. And that applies to everyone, including the big boys. So I’m some YouTube guy saying that.

[41:18] Allan: With Home Alone, Macaulay Culkin was in his own Final Destination.

Wren: How did that idea come about?

Niko: After fixing the Rock, we did Marvel Rated-R. Another guy Peter was with us. We all took some shot on the sequence from Marvel — and it was hilarious! It was basically Deadpool but in The Avengers universe. I got an email from a VFX Sup from Guardians of the Galaxy that it was funny, and it totally made my day. There was this realization that we can make something R-Rated. What else could we make Rated-R that should be? Home Alone pretty quickly came to mind!

Wren: But also that video evolved. We thought it would be like Marvel. But Nick started reediting it and it developed its own personality. At the end of it, we had a whole Corridor video too. The Corridor Digital was all about short films. And the Crew Channel was about behind-the-scenes. But now it’s not so defined. It’s not about the final product but the journey to that product. In terms of React, people like hearing what people think. It adds to the entertainment factor.

[44:10] Allan: A couple more questions. Do you guys budget and schedule things?

Niko: We do. I mean it’s a little loose.

Wren: We try our best to schedule things!

Niko: It’s a little acknowledgement. VFX React takes 3 hours to film and it takes 1 editor 4 days to finish. It gets 1-2 million views. Anything else we do, if it’s going to take more people or more time, will it get 1 million views? That’s not always the case. There are different values for different things.

Wren: I feel like nothing else we do would guarantee that kind of a viewership. So every video has to be that way!

Niko: So Clint just shot a short film for the Corridor Channel. It will probably get 30K views. It took 2 days to shoot. The view to time and money ratio — but it’s part of a bigger process: Can we start streamlining the narratives the same way we’ve done the reality and documentary style? It’s an investment for the future. You have to shrug off all these expectations. At the end of the day, people will watch a video shot on their cellphone and it gets millions of views. And where is the middle line where you aren’t sacrificing the artistic vision? And the other thing I tell myself is that a small dedicated audience is far better for an artist than a big non-dedicated audience. If you’re getting a million views, that’s cool. But no one cares and no one remember who you are. But if you have 10K views and they watch every single video, that’s so much more valuable. That’s our guiding mode here. A lot of the artistic endeavors may not be popular view wise, but they give us the experiences that we can talk about and some artistic exploits because we want to create things. People usually burnt out on YouTube after 3 years. And we’ve been around for 10!

[47:41] Allan: That’s great! I do think you have the coolest job in the world! You get to decide what you want to do and have fun with good people.

Niko: When people watch the Crew Channel, they think we have fun all the time. But when the cameras aren’t rolling, it’s quiet time here. Only when the cameras turn on, we have fun.

[48:17] Allan: Is there anything you’re particularly excited about, in terms of the upcoming technology?

Wren: Light Stages!

Niko: Wren is all about Light Stages. I’m about machine learning.

Wren: That’s the thing that caught my attention the most. Currently, machine learning is free. They shot a bunch of Light Stages for The Mandalorian. You can only have so much light influencing your scene. Now you’re seeing sets where there are walls of textured light. You don’t have to place lights anymore. You can have all the pros to have a scene that’s camera tracked to your realtime camera. You don’t have to replace the green screen work. I think it’s cool! But I think the most impactful would be machine learning stuff.

Niko: So that’s my cue! Last year was big for research projects. Almost everyone posted their codes on GitHub. If you know your basics in Python, you can get this stuff running pretty quickly. There is a website called RunwayML. It gives you access to all these models people made without having to learn Python. It’s a bit basic but it’s great way to start playing with these things. The thing that made me reinvest was Autodesk’s Flame 2020. It has [the following] things:

  • It has A.I. generated Z-depth.
  • It has A.I. rotoscoping segmentation.

With those two alone, there is so much you can do! Anything from adding out-of-focus background! If you are using a tripod, the easiest thing to do for zooming is to key frame it over the course of the shot. But it’s a flat effect. What if you could use the Z-depth to extrude it and give it some depth. Now you can these subtle dolly movements in post. That is what this world unlocks. A human being a familiar with a shape of human being. If I showed you a picture of a human being looking up, you’d figure out that there is a body attached. A computer would go, “Is that a head on top of a hotdog?” But if you train it, it can estimate the pose and figure out.

Wren: Oh, that’s right! Image based motion capture. Can’t wait for that!

Niko: There is a whole lot of amazing tools here that no one has implemented yet. There is Flame and it hasn’t been touched.

[54:22] Allan: This stuff is like from the 80s. It should be going away. It’s still the same old stuff.

Niko: You could use machine learning for image stabilization, noise removal, up-res-ing, for colorizing black-and-white photos. You have all these crazy things with machine learning and it’s surprising that no one is doing it. Except for Flame!

Wren: I bet other people are dong it but it’s not out yet.

[55:44] Allan: You’re right! With A.I., you won’t need that anymore. There is paint out there that only certain cameras can pick up. There is so much stuff that is still experimental!

Niko: An Instagram filter can rotoscope you off the background. And why is that not in After Effects yet?

Wren: Come on! This technology is already here! And yet we can’t use these tools professionally. I started making an Instagram filter (which is super easy) that removes you from the background and replaces it with a green solid. You’re creating your own green screen.

Niko: Not to mention that your phone has the ARKit. But if I pay 25K for a Red camera, it doesn’t have that functionality. It’s crazy! Why is this stuff not in cameras yet?

Wren: Especially since the Red camera has an accelerometer in it. It has the censor hardware.

[59:00] Allan: One final thing, in terms of your production process — if you were to dumb it down — what is your typical process?

Niko:

  • First it starts with an idea. Everyone has ideas. You don’t just pick one, you collect them overtime.
  • We have 2-week gap. What’s an idea that fits into that? We look at our schedule and our bank of ideas. The schedule determines if we do a high- or low-impact idea.
  • Then we develop a script, spend a day or two. Then make some passes.
  • Once we have a script, it goes to Jake and Christian who are basically our producers. We sit down and read through it. We find some locations.
  • We shoot it: we have someone operating the camera, doing sound, we need two actors, a producer, a runner. We keep a small crew.
  • The editing process can flow as things come it. We are trying to get better at streamlining the pipeline, which is why I’ve been playing with DaVinci Resolve. I can do color grading at the same time. Then we get it uploaded. It’s how everyone operates.

[57:09] It’s just a matter of being quick, being smart with your workflow. Use your shortcuts, transcode your footage. Don’t sit there and be dumb with your workflow just because you don’t want to make it faster. How can you improve this so that your ideas and your product have as few barriers as possible. For example, Octane Rendering is a great example that streamlines that process. You just check the box to make it photo real.

Wren: Honestly, that was a huge barrier for me when I was learning 3D graphics. I was learning on Mental Ray. V-Ray was the same way, there are so many settings. Then I got Octane Render and it was done. Then it becomes the materials thing, which is a big plus.

[1:04:00] Allan: Do you, guys, have like a YouTube thing? Or a website thing?

Niko: If you enjoyed the Podcast with Allan, please consider checking out our podcast Corridor Cast. It’s available wherever you like to listen to Podcasts!

[1:04:38] Allan: I want to come back and pick your brains a little more at a later time.

Niko: That would be cool! Thanks for having us! For those of you listening, I’ve been following Allan’s tutorials for a long time! And today, I got to meet him for the first time. And that was really cool!

[1:04:57] Allan: Aw, shucks! I think what you, guys, do is so cool! What so many people should be doing! You are the internet.

Niko: That’s super cool!

Wren: VFX is such a niche thing. Obviously, it’s a big industry. But the general public, it’s dark magic to them.

[1:05:52] Allan: Thanks, guys! You’re really cool.

Niko: You’re cool too! Now get out of our studio!

 

I hope you enjoyed this Episode. I want to thank Niko and Wren for doing this. This was a lot of fun! Let me know if you want to see a follow-up on this. I’d love to chat to them again! Just shoot me an email: [email protected].

Please share this Episode with others. If you want to, comment and rate it on iTunes.

Next Episode, I’m interviewing the Producer for Blind and The Futur. I did an Episode a while back with Chris Do (www.allanmckay.com/125).

Until then —

Rock on!

 

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