VFX house Artifex Studios has added 685 shots to SYFY Channel’s hit “Resident Alien” amid COVID workflow adjustments in 2020. As the series wraps its initial 10-episode run, the full scope of Artifex’s work was on display: everything from town and mountain environments, to spaceships and bacon-grabbing tentacles.
Artifex was involved early in setting key environments for “Resident Alien” and continued to add embellishments or build-outs dependent on scene requirements. In episode 6, the studio augmented stock plates to add sweeping snow-covered mountain ranges, while episode 8 saw a build out of magnificent practical glaciers into a full environment.
The glacier sequence in episode 8 in particular demanded that virtually every moment was touched in some way by Artifex, be it through matte painting, CG extensions, smoothing and alteration of the set, or texture work to subtly add snow and ice. The studio also had to provide extensive rotoscope work in the season finale to transform a daylight town scene into night, complete with lit matte interiors for buildings, etc.
Artifex also got their creature animation fix, when called upon in episode 7 to create a CGI octopus (voiced by Nathan Fillion), which lead Alan Tudyk interacts with through aquarium glass. The photoreal octopod inspires a later scene in episode 9 wherein the studio had to supplant Tudyk’s leg with a tentacle, which seeks out…among other things…bacon.
“The animation had to find a sweet spot that suited the vocal performance accompanying it,” said Artifex VFX Supervisor Rob Geddes. “We wanted to be careful to provide a grabbing visual without taking the viewer out of the moment by being too intentionally cartoonish or farcical.”
Rounding out the work was the inside of the spaceship in episode 10, the season finale. Artifex designed and integrated the spaceship interior inside and around the green screen set.
The project spanned roughly a year due to delays imposed by COVID, with both internal and external adjustments being made to reflect the realities of working remotely.
Hardware/software applied during the project included Maya/V-ray for modeling, animation, and rendering; tracking in Syntheyes, matte painting in Photoshop, compositing in Nuke, scheduling and production tracking in ftrack, and Meshroom for photogrammetry.