We recently caught up with alumni student, Dallas Harvey, who graduated in 2010 from the 3D Computer Animation, Visual Effects and Game Designprogram. In 2011, Dallas went on to found the full service studio, Vancouver FX. His company specializes in character and creature special effects using makeup, sculpture and 3D designs for film, television and music videos. In this interview he talks about how the knowledge and skills he gained at Think Tank helped pave the way for him in the FX industry.
Where did the initial interest come from to sign up for the 3D Computer Animation, VFX and Game Design program at Think Tank?
DH) I have enjoyed creating monsters and creatures most of my life and always wanted to pursue it professionally. While working as a digital graphic designer and web developer in Calgary, I felt it was time to move into the 3D world and make creatures full-time. I became interested in the 3D animation and game design program at Think Tank. Scott and Joe were very helpful and encouraged me to come out and see Think Tank in person. After taking a tour and discussing my goals with them, I knew this was the right choice to continue my education and follow my dreams of making creatures professionally. I moved to Vancouver, enrolled in the program, learned a ton and graduated in 2010. I have never once regretted that decision!
Where was your first job at after you finished the program at Think Tank?
DH) Vancouver’s fashion and makeup school, Blanche Macdonald, were planning to implement a new Digital Makeup Design program, so they hired me to write a curriculum and teach it. I instructed students on how to use Photoshop for creating a concept to be used for their prosthetic FX makeups, weapons, props and costume and hair designs. Being able to teach these up-and-coming artists to use digital tools for their future work was very rewarding, and it was an honour to write the program for the school.
Soon after that I was hired to write articles for Makeup Artist Magazine in the Digital Makeup Design column. My first article focused on using Photoshop to design realistic tattoos using a special makeup application technique on an actor. These jobs started me on a journey from digital to practical FX, and I now work with both mediums on a daily basis.
When did you start your company, Vancouver FX? What made you want to start up your own company? Was there something in particular that inspired you to do so? Did you already have a background in doing makeup/prosthetics?
DH) I did not have a background in make-up or prosthetics before going to Think Tank. After graduating, I was fortunate enough to be mentored by a few of Canada’s best practical FX artists. In particular, Think Tank sculpting instructor, Gideon Hay, and Gemini award winning makeup FX artist, Celine Godeau. Within two years of learning practical effects makeup and prosthetic sculpting, I was hired to be the key FX artist and designer for many films and music videos in Canada and the USA.
Vancouver FX was started in 2012, and I started doing production work full-time out of my studio. What inspired me to create my own business was having the freedom to create designs that I could choose. I am able to train and build an amazing team that creates original monsters and creatures. This is the best part of the job!
Do you find the knowledge you gained at Think Tank to be useful and applicable to what you do now? Is there a big crossover? Which things do you use the most on a daily basis?
DH) Going to Think Tank changed my life artistically and put me on a professional career path in the FX industry. The experience and mentorship of the instructors was very important in forming a professional work ethic and solid design skills to become a successful artist. Think Tank teaches a professional FX pipeline, so you know what to expect when you enter the industry. Thanks to this program, the transition from school to actually working in the field was very smooth for me.
How many people work at your company? How many projects do you work on at any given time?
DH) We have two departments at Vancouver FX working on our in-house film productions. The studio also creates effects for other film productions when the story and designs are something I find challenging creatively. Our practical FX and Makeup department consists of two key artists and their assistants. Depending on the show’s requirements, the crew can have up to 12 artists working on a project. Patrick Wakefield (300, Watchmen, Sin City, iRobot) is the FX Supervisor and heads up the CG department. We then bring on junior CG artists to satisfy production needs when required. Typically we have a few episodes in pre-production, one in production and one in post. The studio creates original TV and web series in-house, therefore we run a full pipeline from initial concept design, practical and digital asset creation to the final edit.
Is there a particular project you have worked on that you are most proud of?
DH) In 2015 I was nominated for a Leo Award for “Best Makeup in a Short Drama“. We created a world of original creatures and characters for the award-winning kids’ film, ‘Gord’s Brother’. It was a cute, fun monster film. I really enjoy making those sorts of movies.
What projects are you currently working on?
DH) ‘7 Demons’ is a supernatural sci-fi film. It will be released at festivals across North America at the end of 2016.
My studio designed a practical life-sized robot for ‘Unit Bryan’, and I personally puppeted it live in a green suit. My CG team then composited me out of the shots, which you can see in the VFX breakdown video. View it on the Telus Optik TV.
We also have three new in-house film productions starting in 2017, so stay updated on our website: https://VancouverFX.com.
For the full article from Think Tank Training Centre, visit here.
Bat Boy was a short film born out of expanding a music video I did for Fur Trade’s Same Temptation.
I always loved the Bat Boy character growing up, after seeing him appear in the Weekly World News tabloid. The tabloid featured a photo of him shrieking in a cave and I thought it would be interesting to explore how that photo came into existence.
It was a tough video to shoot with the tiny budget we had but, luckily, a lot of people were willing to donate their time and effort out of love for the character.
The makeup artist who did the design and prosthetics was Dallas Harvey. He did a full casting of our actor’s head and sculpted everything from scratch. His talent in prosthetic design and makeup visually brought this character to life.
We were also lucky to cast two amazing young actors in the film. Bat Boy, played by Cameron Andres, and his best friend, played by Sean Quan. The boys worked so well together and had such amazing attitudes.
The music for the film was written by a talented Los Angeles-based composer, Jeremy Nathan Tisser. He did a wonderful job translating my ideas for a traditional orchestrated score into something unique and magical. He called in a lot of favours to record the score with a full orchestra in LA, and it truly made all the difference.
For the full article from National Screen Institute, visit here.
The Wolf Who Came to Dinner made its world debut at the Crazy 8’sGala screening in front of an audience of 1700 to rousing applause! For Director/Writer Jem Garrard, Producer Michael Khazen (and the rest of our hard working cast and crew), the evening marked a night to remember. During intermission, the excitement from the film swept through The Centre with a buzz of activity.
Following the screening of all 6 short films was a Red Carpet After Party at Science World. Guest reveled in the evening, and a member of our team wore the infamous Wolf costume to the delight of partygoers and photographers alike. Look to the event’s media wall for countless photos of the Wolf in action- taking social media by storm!
Behind the whirlwind of social media activity was Dallas Harvey’s creation. Dallas, a Special FX artist, working in both practical and digital effects for over 13 years, created our extraordinary wolf mask for The Wolf Who Came to Dinner. Bringing our werewolf to life included copious hours of design work, lifecasting and sculpting, all before the audience saw the final product on the big screen. I sat down with Dallas Harvey at his Studio located in the Artist Resource Centre to see how it was all done! The ARC is a unique work/live space reserved for dynamic artists working in a variety of different mediums. It’s the perfect home for Vancouver Makeup Effects, a company Dallas founded in 2011.
Growing up in the Vancouver area, Dallas went to Think Tank Training Centre in North Vancouver. Later, he got into traditional sculpture and practical effects, which lead to designing prosthetics and characters. Currently, he’s into 3D developing and printing, but believes in using a combination of tools depending on the project. Creating creatures and characters ever since he was a kid, Dallas was inspired by Comic Books, Heavy Metal Metal Magazine, and artists like Gerald Brom, an American Gothic Fantasy artist.
Tell us a bit about your process and how you created the wolf mask for The Wolf Who Came to Dinner?
“Usually, I start with sketches and drawings, then I go into Photoshop. I’ll go into the computer and digitally sculpt, then I move onto the actual practical sculpture. For the Wolf Who Came to Dinner, Jem showed me some pictures, and I came up with a concept for it. We sculpt based on reference material, so actual photos of wolves, where we study their anatomy. We brought in the actor (Adrian Hough) for lifecasting. Once we had the lifecast, we were able to build the prosthetics, so I sculpted the wolf piece, while Tina fabricated the hair work. We worked together to build the mask and put it all together with the rest of our crew. We also sculpted custom acrylic teeth, fangs in this case, fabricated by artists here in the studio for the vampire, along with custom sculpted eyes and tongue for the wolf. There were three other artists involved as well- so painting and finishing. We fitted it on our actor, then we were good to go!”
What is the most challenging part of your job, and the most rewarding?
There is a lot of work involved, so it can be tedious at times, depending on what you’re doing […] When I want to take a break, I tend to just grab my sketch book and I end up drawing my next character. I like a more whimsical style of fantasy and sci-fi, where you can push it a lot further. We pretty much live and breathe creatures, characters and monsters around here. Working with people like Jem, and other local indie artists, we get to make movies together, and it’s pretty fun. For me, that’s what it’s all about.
Dallas’ work certainly lit up the big screen at the premiere!
Last year, Dallas and his crew worked on another Crazy 8‘s Film, Body Language, where he created the look for the embalmed body. Dallas also teaches sculpture and makeup FX at Vancouver Makeup Effects, teaching four days a week to hobbyists and industry professionals. Look out for his work in the fantastic indie films, Echo and Solomon, and Gord’s Brother. Dallas is also the creator of 7 Demons, a new web series about a half demon avenging his father’s death amidst a world filled with evil.
With the tag line, ‘It’s Fast! It’s Fun! It’s Crazy!’, Crazy 8’scertainly lives up to its motto. Recognized as the best way for a filmmaker to launch their careers in BC, Crazy 8’s is an 8 day filmmaking challenge, where emerging filmmakers are given the support and funding needed to produce a short film. This year, with a record breaking 196 submissions, Director and Writer Jem Garrard landed amongst the top 6 winners with the film, The Wolf Who Came to Dinner. With a unique blend of Horror and Family Drama, her film tells a story of little eight-year-old Beatrice Barkley, a horror fanatic. A horror fanatic, that is, with a serious problem: her mom’s brought her new boyfriend home to meet the family, and no-one but Bea seems to notice he’s a werewolf.
This is Jem Garrard’s first time as a director at Crazy 8‘s, but this four-time Leo Award Winner is no stranger to filmmaking. An international globetrotter from London, UK, Jem has experience filming around the world, spending her last 5 years directing music videos, commercials, and documentaries. She has made official music videos for Ringo Starr, Young Galaxy, and Linkin Park, to name a few. You can also recognize Jem’s work in Dial Y for Yesterday, a 2014 Winner of the Crazy 8’s, where Jem acted as the film’s cinematographer. Co-running Artaban Productions in Vancouver, Jem is known as a rising filmmaker with a distinct vision and edge, due to her technical and creative backgrounds.
Accompanying Jem on, The Wolf Who Came to Dinner is Producer Michael Khazen and Co-Producer Beatrice King. Earlier this year, the gang worked seamlessly on a Sci-Fi film written by Beatrice King, and chose to build upon their success as a strong filmmaking team. With over 21 producer credits under his belt, Michael Khazen (a founding partner of High Deaf Productions), has earned the reputation for being one of Vancouver’s most sought after independent producers. He has refined the skill of hand-picking the best crews in Vancouver that deliver outstanding results.
After forming No Skydivers Productions in 2013, Beatrice Kingstarted producing her own works, including her first film that debuted at the Oregon Independent Film Festival. As an actor, you can see her on screen in CW’s Supernatural, Warner Brother’s Mortal Kombat: Legacy and in Jem Garrard’snew Sci-Fi short, Eve, slated for a Spring release.
Joining the team is the daring and talented cinematographer, Stirling Bancroft. His stunning work can be seen in Roar, Croft, and the feature films, Bloody Knuckles and The Circle. Dallas Harvey has also been hard at work as the team’s Special FX artist. With over 13 years of digital concept and 3D design experience, and as a prosthetic makeup artist and FX sculptor, Dallas has taken on the large role of creating the epic werewolf prosthetic for The Wolf Who Came to Dinner.
The team is full of talent when it comes to its incredible ensemble cast too. Put together with Kris Woznesensky and Kara Eide Casting, young Beatrice Barkley will be played by the spunky newcomer Audrey Smallman. Madeleine Arthur (Tim Burton’s Big Eyes, The Killing) will take on the role of her sister, Cate Barkley, mother Maria Barkley will be played by the lovely Caroline Cave(Hallmark’s Signed, Sealed, Delivered, CW’s Supernatural) and veteran Vancouver actor Adrian Hough (Strange Empire, Motive) joins the cast in the transformative roles of The Wolf and Henry Woodcraft.
We will get to know more of team Wolf in the coming days, leading up to the kick off of Crazy 8’s 2015. Appropriately, The Wolf Who Came to Dinner goes to camera on Friday the 13th!
For the full article from Vancouver Sun, please click here.
The Make-up Museum showcases famous works from film, television and advertising, created by make-up industry leaders. The museum often features rare photo collections, movie memorabilia and pieces from special make-up effects studios. Past contributors have included the Stan Winston Studio, Mike Hill, W.M. Creations, Creative Character, KNB EFX Group, the Chiodo Brothers, Creature Effects and many others. The museum is your chance to see make-up history up close.
The IMATS Vancouver Make-up Museum will be curated by Dallas Harvey. Harvey is a special effects make-up artist, prosthetics sculptor and digital-concept designer. He operates Vancouver Makeup Effects, a traditional and digital-effects studio in Vancouver, British Columbia. Out of his studio location he also instructs beginner-to-advanced effects and sculpture classes on a weekly basis. In addition, Harvey created the Digital Makeup Design program at Blanche Macdonald Centre and is a published writer in the Lab Tech section of Make-Up Artist magazine. His recent work is viewable on his website, VancouverFX.com.
For the full article from International Make-Up Artist Trade Show, visit here.