What’s next for remote working? 2017 and beyond

When we started Legion in 2013, we knew that we were doing something different.

Tapping into the discontent that artists were feeling by having to pick up and move to other countries every time a project ended. After 3 years of this, it’s become clear that we’ve created the largest, and most stable version of this platform to date.

When I went to Siggraph this year and sat on one of several panels with my colleagues in the industry, I realized that Legion® was the only company on the panel that was actually doing medium to high end VFX work for film and television. During our time there we discovered that, increasingly among our contemporaries, there’s a lot of passion for the remote model, both in VFX and animation. More and more people are really knocking themselves out to set up tools and systems to get remote artists to be able to work comfortably.

A full house for 'Remote Studio Productions' with Animatrik, director Ciaran Foy and MasterKey, hosted by Ian Failes from VFX blog
VFX Legion’s SIGGRAPH panel with Animatrik, Ciaran Foy, Master Key and vfxblog

Most models I saw didn’t have a revenue source. There were great creative systems that allowed animators to work and collaborate with each other all around the world. However, it was all about pushing the passion projects. Most of these were zero revenue models or artists that were just getting working, early in their careers.

By starting a business like Legion® with senior artists and a clear revenue stream, we have broken through the glass ceiling that is remote production. In the upcoming year, we will be rolling out a platform from which remote artists will be able to work with absolute security – another first for the industry.

More and more people will be brought into the Legion fold, and other companies will do more to emulate what we have done. The goal for everyone should be to find the revenue stream that makes it all possible. First we unlock the artist from the facility, and in giving them freedom, we generate high quality work that productions will want to pay for.

H Hammond (2)
The future of crunch times and the ‘culture of fear’. You’re looking at it!

The Legion Way of working will become the norm for remote visual effects work.

TV VFX – how we approach it at Legion

The amount of visual effects that support television today may surprise you.

It comes in all shape and sizes, but in the vast majority of television shows, there are three main areas into which you could categorize VFX for TV:

In your face

This is bold, in-your-face, Game of Thrones-type VFX; dragons soaring past a grand pyramid, or blowing up a fleet of ships in a storm of green fire. There’s a lot of passion and magic behind that work – teams of hundreds across multiple studios come together to create something approaching, or in some cases exceeding, feature film levels of visual effects for a weekly show.

World augmentation

The second type of work is less obvious. This comes in the form of set extensions, changing locations, adding buildings or signage changes, and so on. They comprise many little things that, when added to a show, allow the viewer to believe a scene was shot in Washington DC or New York city, when in fact it was shot in Los Angeles or Toronto.

Cleanup and fixes

The third type of VFX in television is production fixes: removing cables, stands and lights, or making subtle beauty enhancements, like taking labels off of TVs or replacing hastily taped over logos on laptop screens. That’s par for the course for many shows on television today.

Here at Legion® we specialize in the latter two types of television VFX. And while they may not be as big or bombastic as a fire-breathing dragon, they’re no less important when it comes to world-building.

In 2013, we worked on a show called Revolution, which takes place in a futuristic world without electricity, where civilisation has fallen into disrepair, unkempt and overgrown. This gave us a chance to flex our matte painting muscle with beautiful paintings of an overgrown capital building in Austin Texas, a skyscraper that has become overgrown, and an empty street, free of all modern day accoutrements.

In 2015 we were brought on to take over Scandal, How To Get Away With Murder and The Catch for Shondaland. All of this work falls squarely into the last two categories.

Scandal is filmed here in Los Angeles but takes place in Washington DC and other cities around the country. There are many locales in and around Washington DC that we fill into the backgrounds with the use of green screens and matte paintings.

How To Get Away With Murder takes place in Maryland, but is also filmed in Los Angeles. Most of the work on ‘Murder’ is about putting images into computer screens, adding digital blood to actors, or clearing out palm trees from the sky lines of outdoor shots.

Finally, The Catch takes place here in Los Angeles, but we’ve added buildings under construction buildings, a car crash, multiple people getting shot or shot at, as well as computer screens and televisions.


And as long as no one notices we were ever there, our job is done.