2019 WonderCon EXCLUSIVE: Barnstorm VFX Co-Founder, Cory Jamieson, Talks VFX For TV
During my time at WonderCon, I caught up with award-winning visual effects producer and supervisor, Cory Jamieson. With his effects house, Barnstorm VFX, Jamieson has been working in post-production and visual effects for over 12 years, with credits that include VFX work on some ofnthe premiere shows on television today (see The Man in the High Castle, Silicon Valley, The Good Wife, and Strange Angel, among many others).
As mentioned before, Jamieson co-founded his company with vfx supervisor Lawson Deming, growing Barnstorm from a team of 2 artists to a company of over 50 people! Enjoy our conversation together just below...
MSU: Cory, thanks so much for taking the time to speak with me. My first question to you is this: With your extensive resume of credits in TV & film, which would you say that you prefer between the two?
Cory Jamieson: Well, I would say that there's is a pro & con to each. With networks (on TV), there is a faster turnaround - generally having less time to do [your work on a project], but being able to move forward quickly.
Cory Jamieson: We've (my team at Barnstorm) done a couple of features, and features generally have longer turnaround times - providing more time to experiment. Yet, I feel that TV is a little short and film is a little long as far as that work flow goes. However, with this "geek TV" era that we live in, I feel that provides a great playground for the world of visual FX - in the sense that we're in hydrid territory as far as content, budget, storytelling - which provides the best of both worlds. I mean, don't get me wrong, I love features as much network [TV], but again that hybrid between fast & efficient - yet still having the time to explore - is definitely my preference.
MSU: Right, exactly. So, take me back and tell me how Barnstorm came to be?
Cory Jamieson: Well, my partner & I met many years ago on a show called Ugly Betty - which was on NBC many years ago. We were both in-house artists in the editorial department - doing visual effects shots. Soon after, we started Barnstorm, during which we began hitting our stride with shows such as Silicon Valley and Man In The High Castle - which were bigger & more "visual effect-sy." Still, with this said, Ugly Betty was a great proving ground [for my colleague and I] because it had that combination of production value but also design & creativity. After working on Betty and again starting Barnstorm, we transitioned to "visible" effects....
You see, there are two types of visual effects: visual [as mentioned before] and invisible. Invisible effects are completely ubiquitous in today's marketplace for content creation - all the way from reality television to the biggest feature that gets released. For example, this "invisible" effect can be as small as a sign that's not supposed to be there [in a shot] or a piece of equipment that not supposed to be there [in a shot] all the way up to huge animated space battles with creatures. So, in doing The Man In The High Castle, going from doing more of that production value "invisible" stuff - which we, as a company, still do a lot of, and do well - to the more "visible" effects at the end of Season 1 of Man In The High Castle. For instance, we did an official sequence of that - whether it was [something as big as] building rockets or Nazi landscapes to [something as simple as] a comp of a green screen.
MSU: How much interaction do you have with other folks on a project - i.e. actors/actresses?
Cory Jamieson: Well, it depends on the project - in some cases, we are, since we're both on the set at the same time. However, we regularly work in tandem with the post production department - that is, editors & producers in post production. Additionally, we'll work with the show creatives/showrunners, writers, directors, and executive producers, cinematographers, and production designers the most - the reason being that we'd need to get involved in the script phase (when things are just starting) all the way to the final color correction & sound mixing.
This involvement that we [as the visual effects team] have as a department is quite unique, as we're one of the few that is involved [with a project] from the very beginning to the very end.
MSU: Gotcha! So lastly, with everything that you explained, what is one assumption you feel adjust when thinking about VFX?
Cory Jamieson: Well, I'd say that the computer doesn't do it. The people DO it.
You regularly here: "....we have the technology to move that thing or to do that..." Listen, don't get me wrong, there are brilliant algorithms out there, and the computer does a lot of work, but it requires human beings to do it.
MSU: Absolutely! Cory, thanks so again for your time!
Cory Jamieson: Thank you!
Interview by Phillip Estes