Nice Shoes' Features and Episodics Division Crafts Whimsical VFX for 'Wendy'
February 12, 2020

Nice Shoes' Features and Episodics Division Crafts Whimsical VFX for 'Wendy'

NYC-based creative studio Nice Shoes has launched NS-VFX as its new Features and Episodics Division, creating all of the visual effects for the highly anticipated feature fantasy drama Wendy, from Academy Award-nominated director Benh Zeitlin ( Beasts of the Southern Wild). The classic story of Peter Pan is wildly reimagined in this ragtag epic, which features over 300 VFX shots . Lost on a mysterious island where aging and time have come unglued, Wendy must fight to save her family, her freedom, and the joyous spirit of youth from the deadly peril of growing up.

NS-VFX is led by Creative Director/VFX Supervisor Jasper Kidd and industry veteran Executive Producer Joyce Boll, bringing years of experience partnering with visionary filmmakers constructing unique worlds and dynamic imagery on screen. The studio is focusing on highly stylized visuals as a vehicle for conceptual exploration for both feature films and the episodic market. 

We aim to bridge the communication between the nuanced, creative vision with the technical and artistic execution, really pushing the boundaries of what is possible through visual storytelling. We feel this is evident in our first feature out of the gate, which we completed for Academy Award-nominated director Benh Zeitlin’s (Beasts of the Southern Wild) fantasy drama Wendy,” notes Kidd.

The film made its worldwide debut at the Sundance Film Festival, and will be followed by a nationwide theatrical release by Searchlight on February 28, 2020. Zeitlin previously wowed critics and audiences in 2012, taking home the coveted Grand Jury Prize, also earning the Caméra d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival later that year. 

"I was in awe of what Benh accomplished on Beasts of the Southern Wild. I was so attracted to his unique style of filmmaking, and to the idea of carrying on that style in Wendy. To be a full collaborator on the film was incredible. Building a division from scratch to create a true work of art was a once in a lifetime experience,” adds Kidd. 

The visual effects crew for Wendy held a similar maverick artist dynamic consumed with delivering perfection on each and every frame. There was an openness with the director that fed the aesthetic exploration throughout the filmmaking process. The newly minted NS-VFX studio delivered stunning visuals evident throughout the film. 

VFX Supervisor Jasper Kidd worked closely with Zeitlin and cinematographer Sturla Brandth Grovlen to create the whimsical effects, previzing sequences shot-by-shot, ensuring that each detail served the creative vision of the lauded director. The results are the breathtaking look of each shot in this highly anticipated film. 

Sundance critics and audiences alike were spellbound by the seamless ensemble of CG augmented-puppeteered creatures, the plush landscapes and vivid aquatic scenes. 

“A highly-customized, cloud-based pipeline was specifically designed to execute the visual effects for this film and ensure that every frame seamlessly integrated into the narrative, allowing the crew to work incredibly efficiently while delivering the film’s signature dreamy aesthetic,” adds Kidd.

A particularly challenging feat came in the form of a 40-foot long mythical sea creature called “Mother”. With rigorous previs planning and CG augmentation Kidd and crew successfully transformed the five-foot puppet into the 40-foot creature seen on film. 

Kidd, Boll and the NS-VFX team bring a wealth of experience in visual effects, heralding from backgrounds stoked in artistic excellence. They handle all scopes of visual effects, from cleanup shots to building complex 3D CG environments, to conceptualizing and creating intricately designed photoreal sequences.

“This is an exceptional achievement from a team of eight, one that you’d expect to come from a much larger studio,” added Boll. “It’s rare to have this level of partnership with the director, but Jasper quickly established a rapport and trust with Benh that led to this visual masterpiece. It’s even more rare for a NY-based visual effects studio to have the privilege as the exclusive studio on a film, especially at this level of work. We look forward to partnering with each of our clients in this manner.” 

Image credit: Searchlight