ActionVFX creates VFX assets for visual professionals and film-makers. VFXwire met up with Luke Thompson, Chief Operating Officer at ActionVFX to have a chat about their company, process and aims for the future.

  • Can you tell us a little about yourself as well as your background?

I grew up in Jonesborough, Tennessee, an area with very little to no film industry. But that’s never stopped me from learning new skills and abilities related to the craft. I’ve always been very business focused and growth minded. I started out as a freelance videographer when I was 15 years old and naturally progressed into the visual effects side of things when I wanted to make higher quality and more elaborate videos.

  • What is the history of ActionVFX? What made you start the company and what was the process like?

ActionVFX was founded by Rodolphe Pierre-Louis from his parent company, RodyPolis. RodyPolis has always had more of a motion-graphic focus, while ActionVFX is solely VFX compositing.

I was blessed enough to be able to get connected with Rodolphe about a year before he had decided to officially launch ActionVFX. Initially, I was hired as a behind the scenes videographer for the very first product shoot for what is now ActionVFX. After working together and hearing Rodolphe’s vision for what he was wanting ActionVFX to be, and how the goal was to be the undisputed place for VFX stock footage, I quickly knew that I wanted to be a part of what he was building.

  • In 2015 you launched a kickstarter to kick off the company and earned more than 59.000 USD from 446 backers. Why do you think the kickstarter was so successful and what did you do to make it so?

I really have to attribute the success of the Kickstarter to Rodolphe on this one. He worked so hard on building every aspect of the campaign and making sure that everything was perfect. That very first product shoot that I mentioned earlier actually ended up being used to propel the Kickstarter forward. We were able to use the behind the scenes footage and actual stock assets as a “proof of concept” to help everyone else see what we were setting out to build, and how our quality of stock elements was truly next-level. 

Another key factor of the campaign’s success would have to be the product/market fit. Before the conception (and ever since) we have always been surveying our users to see what they want to see us make and how they want it to be shot, what angles and file formats they need, etc. And that plays a huge part in our product creation to this day.

  • What are the main challenges that you face while running the company?

I think scaling is always a challenge with any business. For us being such a small team, it’s really important for us to make sure we have the right players in the right roles so that we can maintain our high standards of excellence across the board. From the quality control of products to the level of customer service we provide to our users. On the other side of that is still trying to protect that tightly-knit culture while growing.

  • What are your main criteria for a successful VFX element?

A product that is “successful” for us is essentially a gap that is being filled with that product. We want to give our users something new that adds substantial value to their own compositions. There are still some studios that rotate out the same few explosions or fire clips in their feature film or television work, and honestly, it shows. 

Before we came into the space, those artists didn’t really have any option but to use whatever was already out there. But now they do, and that variety is something we’ve really pushed for.

  • What is your process for shooting the elements like?

Just like any other product, it can be really stressful to have a number of different finances tied up into a set period of time. It’s important for us to not only plan everything out on paper, but R&D to actually see what works and what doesn’t work before committing to anything. Always have a plan B, and if possible, C and D.

  • Do you work directly with VFX Artists and what type of feedback are you getting?

As I mentioned, we work very closely with the artists using our elements to constantly survey and gather feedback as to what is working and not working for them so that we can always be improving on our previous work. All in all, the feedback for what we’re doing has been astoundingly positive! It’s so cool to see everyone else get as excited as we are for what we’re doing and where we’re going. They know that we don’t plan on stopping what we’re doing anytime soon, and it’s a great feeling to have the community not only with us on this journey, but closely providing that much-needed feedback that continues to drive the direction of the company.

  • Which of your current elements are you most proud of?

That’s a tough question! Currently, I’d have to say the Explosions Vol. 2 / Dust Explosions / Dirt Blast Collections. They were all filmed at the same time, but that was the first time we’d ever used the blue sky as a background to key against. A big reason for us doing that was to retain all of the dark smoke that’s inside the blasts that otherwise would’ve been lost had it been shot on black.

After having our rigs ready to go, we pretty much had to just wait on clouds to pass out of the frame before firing the effect. Needless to say, it was a really tough process to shoot and to key, but our team did a fantastic job. And because of everyone’s great teamwork, that’s why I’m extra proud of those products. 

Also, a big shoutout to our Editor, Zac VanHoy, for painting out hundreds of bugs flying through the effects that nobody will ever know or hear about, to make the clips absolutely perfect. That’s just one example of the extra level of quality that we always push for!

  • What are you currently working on and what is next for the future of ActionVFX?

The future is very bright for ActionVFX. We are getting ready to launch into what we call Phase 3, that will signify a new era of ActionVFX products. Just a few things you can expect to see from us in the near future are: Blood Pools, Blood Mist Vol. 2, Falling DustMuzzle Flashes Vol. 2 and Torches (Think Tomb Raider). That’s about all that I can say currently, but the new things we’ve been developing are definitely very useful and will continue to aid in our mission to create the best stock footage for visual effects.

See more about ActionVFX here. They currently have 50% off on all elements until May 15 2019 .

Check out ACTIONVFX’s amazing Visual Effects Elements Library with 1000s of stock footage to choose from created for Visual Effects professionals & Film-makers.

Allan Torp Jensen
Author: Allan Torp Jensen

Allan has worked on visual effects for feature films and television for 20 years. He has experience of the full VFX pipeline but has focused on compositing for the past 15 years and has been a Lead Compositor and Compositing Supervisor on various shows. He has worked with the talented people at Cinesite, Bluebolt VFX, Automatik VFX in London, and Weta Digital in New Zealand. For the past five years, he has worked remotely at his own Torper Studio on various high-end TV and feature film projects.