How Hollywood Continues to Power Forward in a Coronavirus Pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has ground most things to a halt. Despite several states across the country deciding to open up as case numbers continue reaching new heights, Hollywood and the industries surrounding it are still very much shutdown, at least, for the most part. While physical production is on the backburner, and likely will continue to be for the foreseeable future, there are dozens of visual effects vendors that are able to continue work remotely on any films or television shows that were fortunate enough to wrap up production before the shutdowns hit.

We recently caught up with Crafty Apes' Mark LeDoux to chat about the ever-changing workflow of Hollywood visual effects in a world of chaos. LeDoux, who works as the firm's Senior Visual Effects Supervisor, tells us that for the most part — it's business as usual for the company. Though the entire company is now working remote — except for one SysAdmin back at the home office to keep things in order — work on the projects the vendor has successfully bid on continues like normal.

In fact, it was easier than one might think to take the company entirely online, largely thanks in part to the specific securities involved with many of the studios. As such, the main server and computers are kept under lock and key in a central office, forcing the company to remotely access the hardware even while in an office.

The biggest change, LeDoux says, is when it comes to the workflow itself. Instead of being able to go down the hall and being able to tweak an asset here or there, all communication now takes place through electronic channels with top-level security clearances in place. "At our studio, we are very connected to the artists, very connected, so basically the difference is I can't go talk to him anymore," LeDoux tells us. "I'm a big fan of talking to people face-to-face and looking at the shots together. So that's the biggest thing is we're having to relay a lot more communication through chat. But at the same time, we also have the power to just video call so we can see each other's faces."

If having to FaceTime coworkers is the biggest change in the world of visual effects, it's not too bad of a thing — right? LeDoux says that on the visual effects front, he hasn't seen enough that would suggest the industry will be permanently changed by the shutdown. While it's currently a minor inconvenience, he's confident the world of VFX will be back normal before too long at all.

"We serve at the behest of the people making the films and they are going to want the most secure way possible, and they're going to want studios to visit physically and watch things in theaters and stuff like that," LeDoux says about getting back into the office. "And so, there is still an aspect of customer service that has to be adhered to, so that's why I don't personally see it as a huge change."

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He concludes, "But then again, I could be wrong."

Crafty Apes has offices in Los Angeles, New York City, Atlanta, Baton Rouge, Vancouver, and Albuquerque. Within the past few years, the company has worked on everything from HBO's Watchmen to Jumanji: The Next Level, Zombieland: Double Tap, Dolemite is my Name, and beyond.

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