Animation Magazine: VFX Legion Opens BC Studio

VFX Legion, a full-service Burbank-based visual effects company, has launched a studio in British Columbia, Canada. The new division accesses the province’s substantial tax rebates, and the diverse roster of senior artists needed to efficiently craft the high-quality photo-realistic visual effects that feature films and episodic television shows demand. The Kelowna outpost will be a powerful creative hub offering a next-generation pipeline, bolstering the global reach of the studio founded by Creative Director James David Hattin in 2013.

The company kicks off the new venture with a skilled roster of in-house talent, along with a scalable collective of specialized visual effects artists based beyond commuting distance to its studio. Hattin is currently finalizing the signing of a head of production/senior VFX supervisor to helm the B.C. operation as Legion continues to solidify new relationships with top-tier talent based throughout the whole of the province.

Read on to find out more about Legion’s truly global studio

VFX Legion kicks it into high gear

VFX Legion‘s diverse collective of talent has been turning around high-quality visual effects for multiple episodic TV shows simultaneously for years – meeting challenging deadlines with ease. As an artist-driven company, vetting talent and adding skilled lead artists to our team is an ongoing process that is core to our business model.

The recent addition of a number of senior artists has further expanded the scope of our studio’s capabilities. This enables VFX Legion to provide producers with a one-stop resource to meet the full range of visual effects needs for even a large number of shows without compromising the high standards the industry demands, as well as an end-to-end approach that gets the most out of every budget.

The Management Team

James David Hattin – Founder & Creative Director

James oversees every aspect of the visual effects process. The head of Legion’s in-house operation, James works with the senior management team to supervise each artist in the studio’s talent collective and manage them as a single transparent unit. James is the architect of the cutting-edge pipeline that sits at the core of Legion, which provides unprecedented reach, connectivity, and flexibility across projects.

Matthew T. Lynn – Senior Visual Effects Supervisor

Having worked with Legion for the last four years, Matthew will bring focus and creative drive to multiple episodic television shows. He will also be on set to supervise the Los Angeles-based shows. Working closely with James Hattin, the founder and Creative Director of the studio, he will share the responsibility for setting the looks and making sure the quality exceeds the needs for every show we work on.

Nate Smalley – Head of Production

Nate efficiently leads Legion’s management team and 70+ VFX artists, overseeing the production process from beginning to end. Nate is responsible for shepherding incoming projects and working with clients to create and refine budgets, ensuring that Legion provides the most cost-efficient approach and delivers the highest quality VFX that optimize every dollar.

Recent additions to our collective of lead artists

Eric Ebling – Lead Dynamics Artist

Eric was recently signed to head up the Simulation and Dynamics department at VFX Legion. Formerly of Digital Domain, Method, Zoic, and Hydraulx, Eric was nominated for a VES award for his work on a Nike commercial as well as a silver Clio Award in 2013. With nearly 20 years of experience working in commercials and feature films, he is well trained for the fast pace of episodic television. We first brought Eric on board as a freelancer to lend his talents to the FX for CW’s Legends of Tomorrow.  Eric’s, ingenuity, depth of experience and management skill ensure that Legion’s work stays creative, fresh and results driven.

Marc Adamson – Lead Matte Painter

VFX Legion has also added Marc Adamson to its team as a Lead Matte Painter. An alumni of Framestore, Method and Prime Focus, his skills and eye for composition make him a valuable member of our team. Marc previously worked with us on the last season of CBS’ political drama, Madam Secretary and our Power Rangers short. This season, he will be our go to Matte Painter. We look forward to his contribution to creating photorealistic new worlds and new locations for a mix of new projects. Marc will also revisit environments, like Washington, D.C. for the new seasons of Madam Secretary and How to Get Away with Murder.

Bryan Shepperd – Lead Lighter

After working with Legion as a freelancer last season, Bryan has officially joined VFX Legion as Lead Lighter for our episodic shows and feature work. With hundreds of episodes of television visual effects under his belt, he brings a unique toolset, and an ability to plug into our Redshift rendering platform to deliver high-end elements under tight deadlines.

VFX Legion has also penned an agreement with ActionVFX to provides our studio with access to the company’s extensive library of digital elements. This new affiliation enables VFX Legion to augment select FX shots with quality stock elements, providing a cost-effect alternative to creating a considerable number of VFX elements from scratch.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch to discuss your latest project with Legion

In the news: Bringing explosive VFX to Superfly

Superfly, the remake of the 1972 blaxploitation Super Fly, follows Atlanta drug dealer Youngblood Priest as he seeks an exit from “the game”. In order to do so, he must complete one last job while navigating dangerous waters filled with rival gangs, corrupt police, and a Mexican drug cartel.

We joined the project in the eleventh hour to amp up the action. Our artists leveraged their invisible VFX specialty to deliver 90 complex shots designed to increase the impact of Superfly’s violence, while also further immersing viewers in the world of fur coats, platform shoes, and slicked-back hair.

We worked on two main shootouts and a shootout including Molotov cocktails, making the scenes more chaotic, adding a level of violence of the conflagration and increasing the sense of danger that surrounded the characters. Our global pipeline and talent made sure that Superfly lived up to its inspiration.

Take a look at some of the coverage below:


“The visual effects that VFX Legion created were all about amplifying the impact of the violence captured with practical footage and intensifying the spectacle of the film to achieve the look that the director and producer envisioned.”


“The mix of assets and visual effects that Legion produced really magnify the intensity of the carnage during the two main shootouts and they brought home the ferocity and violence at the core of the film.”

Creative Content Wire

“Legion’s experience, their technical ingenuity really helped them turn such a large workload of shots around well ahead of time, leaving them to take on some additional work on set .”

Animation Express

“Legion created numerous simulations of debris from the walls that blended with the look and texture of the practical footage. Bringing a heightened impact of the violence in a number of scenes.”


“VFX Legion layered multiple stock photography of fire elements and 3D tracking of the camera enabling their Nuke artists to produce shots with a photorealistic look and seamlessly sync them with the footage .”

Broadcast Beat

“VFX Legion augmented squibs from bullet hits with computer-generated blood that streams out of wounds, puddles on the floor and splatters in realistic patterns.”

Watch our VFX breakdown of Superfly below –

California extends film tax credits to 2025

Earlier this week, Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation to extend the $330 million California film and television tax credit program until 2025.

The tax credits scheme is vital in keeping projects in the California area, as opposed to productions chasing incentives and moving to the likes of New York, Canada and the UK, which offer extremely flexible tax credit proposals.


James Hattin, our founder, said: “We, as a Burbank-based visual effects studio, welcome the extension and hope the tax credit scheme continues to welcome world-leading productions to the state of California. California is a hub of wonderful creativity, and the more incentives productions have to benefit from that, the better.”

Since the bill was introduced in 2009, $840 million has been allocated to 150 approved projects. Those numbers reflect 18,000 cast members hired, 29,000 crew members appointed, and 13 TV series that relocated to California from out of state.

Additional provisions have been introduced as part of the extension, including requirements for harassment-free environments and a new Career Pathways Program providing technical skills for individuals from underserved communities.

Other provisions include:

  • Awarding tax credits according to a jobs ratio rating system, whereby applications are ranked based upon the number of jobs created in California and other economic factors.
  • Increasing funding for independent films and ensuring smaller independent productions are not competing with larger productions.
  • Offering an additional 5 percent tax credit increase for local hires working outside the Los Angeles 30-mile zone.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch to discuss your latest project with Legion

In the news: Creating Madam Secretary’s Washington

Season four of CBS’ Madam Secretary came to a dramatic conclusion recently as main character Elizabeth McCord, played by Téa Leoni, expressed her desire to run for President. The political drama series is set in Washington D.C, but filmed in Los Angeles. It was down to our Legion of artists to recreate the city’s iconic buildings in CG.

We were tasked to take the visual effects to the next level in some of the most complex and exacting photorealistic computer-generated environments created for the show’s fourth season which included large-scale set extensions, meticulously detailed CG environments, CG replications of buildings like the White House.

Our first task was to create a CG replication of the White House for a large green screen set up and over the season we met the show’s tight deadlines and created a variety of true to life CG shots. Our library enabled us to expedite the production of the effects by building on existing assets.


“Madam Secretary brought VFX Legion onboard to help keep things real, whilst streamlining the production and challenging computer-generated environments.”


“The studio helped take the role of visual effects to the next level. augmenting many shots of the show’s footage that would have been impractical or impossible to shoot live such as Joint Base Andrews, the US military facilities that houses Air Force One.”


“VFX Legion pulled out all the stops to deliver a large quantity of complex, high-quality VFX, and make last minute changes, whilst still meeting a tight deadline and getting the most value out of the budget.”

CG Meetup

“VFX Legion had the experience and technical ingenuity to create large-scale set extensions and meticulously detailed CG environments that stood in for a number of practical location shots without sacrificing the accuracy of the acclaimed series.”


“VFX Legion is thrilled to have been given the opportunity to work on ‘Madam Secretary’, says James Hattin founder of VFX Legion. “Working with the show’s team has been an amazing experience and we are incredibly proud of the work that we’ve contributed towards this season.”

Broadcast Beat

“Legion helped take the role of visual effects to the next level, augmenting the show’s footage with shots that would have been impractical or impossible to shoot live.”

You can catch Madam Secretary on Netflix, and stay tuned for season 5 of the CBS drama in early 2019. Watch our VFX breakdown of Madam Secretary below –

South Lawn Scandal VFX Breakdown

In the news: Farewell to Scandal

Scandal came to an explosive, gripping conclusion last month, which capped off our 3-year run as the sole visual effect company for ABC’s award-winning political thriller. The series is shot in LA, while its story unfolds in D.C. where deception and intrigue ensue as its central character, Olivia Pope, (Kerry Washington) the staff of her crisis management firm, and the White House’s inner circle ravenously vie for power.

While this episodic drama didn’t call for futuristic CG worlds, Legion were called upon to create composited sequences, set extensions, full computer-generated environments and exacting digital replications of iconic buildings in D.C. that would have been too expensive, impractical, or impossible to shoot.

This show put us through our paces from the very first episode, where we had to turn around 50+ shots in a week, and we built a solid working relationship with the show’s team, paving the way for increasingly challenging effects as the season’s progressed.

Scandal VFX Breakdown Supreme Court Before After

Film Contact

“The Burbank studio has been the driving force behind the hundreds of computer-generated effects that the show’s viewers didn’t see each week. The team took great pride that their photorealistic world went unnoticed by fans.”


“Scandal’s series finale marks the culmination of three year’s work on a breakthrough television show,” says Hattin. “The team at VFX Legion is proud of its contribution to the series and thrilled to have had the opportunity work with Shondaland Productions and ABC Studios on the final three seasons of the show.”

VFX Express

“VFX Legion pulled out all the stops to deliver a large quantity of complex, high-quality VFX, and make last minute changes, whilst still meeting a tight deadline and getting the most value out of the budget.”

Senate Chambers Before/After VFX Breakdown


“VFX Legion made time to explore ways to optimize production value and the show’s visual effects budget. Revisiting original CG shots and developed new, highly detailed White House assets to support updated environments, with new and interesting perspectives.”


“VFX Legion multi-disciplined collective of 70+ artists were able to help the workforce handle the volume of visual effects that the show required, and spread out the shots to allow the talent to focus on creating quality work.”

Creative Cow

“VFX Legion worked closely with the client to get a full understanding of their vision. Everything was thought of from streamlining workflow to  crafting a plan that worked with the show’s budgets, schedules, and resources.”

Viewers can catch all seasons of Scandal, a streaming favorite on Netflix. Watch Scandal’s VFX breakdown reel below –