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Interview: Rodolphe Pierre-Louis / ActionVFX

Rodolphe Pierre-Louis, CEO of ActionVFX, gives us the lowdown on the companys unique range of visual effects, its strategy and where VFX will go in the future...

Rodolphe Pierre-Louis, CEO of ActionVFX, gives us the lowdown on the companys unique range of visual effects, its strategy and where VFX will go in the future...

3dtotal: Tell us a little bit about the company: Who are you, what do you do, and where are you located?
Rodolphe Pierre-Louis: ActionVFX is a branch of my company, RodyPolis LLC. It is a stock footage website dedicated solely to creating stock elements for the visual effects and video game industry. Our goal is to help artists and studios create faster and more realistic VFX shots by providing them real assets that they can composite into their projects.

Were located in the United States, in Johnson City, TN

VFX shot using the ActionVFX Smoke Plumes collection to show rising smoke after an attack

VFX shot using the ActionVFX Smoke Plumes collection to show rising smoke after an attack

3dt: What inspired ActionVFX? What distinguishes ActionVFX from other stock VFX services?
RPL: Honestly, the main reason I started working on ActionVFX was because as a Filmmaker, and an avid movie-watcher, I noticed a lack of options when it came to high quality VFX stock footage. Im sure most people in our industry could also notice the same stock effects being used over and over, by literally everyone. Eventually we decided to do something about it, and in 2015 RodyPolis started working on ActionVFX.

The first thing that distinguishes us from the competition is the quality of our products. From the very beginning, our main goal was always to create products that were far better than what was available on the market. Thanks to a lot of support and feedback from the VFX community, we succeeded in achieving that goal! Since day one of our launch, a lot of users already proclaimed us as the best in the industry, and that was a huge honor for the whole team.

Listening to our userbases needs is something else that distinguishes us from the competition. I would say eighty percent of what we do is directly related to the feedback that we receive from VFX artists. We engage a lot with the users, and they play a crucial role in everything weve been able to accomplish. Ive lost count of how many one-on-one Skype meetings weve had with many of our customers in order to find out how to best meet their needs. As I always say, listening is our secret weapon.

BTS: Rodolphe Pierre-Louis on set filming Fire elements with the RED Epic Dragon

BTS: Rodolphe Pierre-Louis on set filming Fire elements with the RED Epic Dragon

The third point Ill make is our flexible selling model. Most VFX stock footage companies sell their effects in packs. If you want just one effect, you have to buy the whole pack. Thats not very economical for our customers, so we allow users to buy effects both individually and in collections. Were also flexible in our delivery formats. We offer pre-keyed ProRes, as well as raw .R3D files straight from the RED cameras. A lot of our power users actually prefer the raw files, and were more than happy to provide that to them!

3dt: Who is ActionVFX designed for? Amateurs? Professionals?
RPL: We are definitely aimed at the professional market. Our effects are currently used on many well-known film and TV projects for Netflix, ABC, CBS, Syfy, etc. Were also being used in a couple high-profile video games that I cant discuss just yet. So yes, we create products that can be used at the highest level of post-production.

With that being said, many of our customers are also amateurs. Our selling model allows users to only buy what they need, so even someone working on a low budget can make use of ActionVFX elements. We also provide some of our collections free of charge, which thousands of users download every month. While we mainly focus on professionals, we dont shun amateurs. We were all amateurs at one point.

Before and After comparison of a shot using the ActionVFX Structure Fire collection to burn down a building

Before and After comparison of a shot using the ActionVFX Structure Fire collection to burn down a building

3dt: Tell us about your products. What kinds of effects do you have? How can users implement them?
RPL: Currently, we have over thirteen hundred individual effects in our library. The categories include explosions, fire, debris and impact, gun FX, particles, smoke, and more. Basically, everything you need for some exciting VFX shots!

These effects are created for compositors. To implement them, compositors would use software like Nuke, After Effects, or HitFilm, to overlay the elements over their footage. Of course, thats a very simple way of putting it. Theres a lot more that goes into building a great VFX shot than simply overlaying the effects.

3dt: How does ActionVFX differ from other stock effects services?
RPL: I already touched up on this in an earlier question, so Ill use that as an opportunity to list some more reasons why were different from other services.

ActionVFX elements include explosions, fire, gun FX, smoke, blood, debris, and more

ActionVFX elements include explosions, fire, gun FX, smoke, blood, debris, and more

Most of our elements are a hundred percent real effects that we shot in a controlled environment. Real effects mean our clients can create more realistic comps. We currently deliver our products in 4K resolution, and were working on releasing new effects in 5K and 6K by fall. A lot of other stock effects companies are still limited to 2K resolution.

Another big advantage we have is that all of us on the team have a filmmaking background. So were all used to shooting, lighting, cameras, lenses, etc. VFX and post-production knowledge alone wouldnt allow us to do our work as well as we do it because being on set, filming, is a big part of our job. If it wasnt for my background in shooting films and music videos, for example, it wouldve been impossible for me to lead and execute the ActionVFX vision as well as I have. Having both a Film and VFX background allows us to create products at a quality that other companies cant match.

I already said this, but users can also get some of our collections for free! So you dont even need to spend money to get started with ActionVFX.

Real explosion samples from the ActionVFX Explosions collection. Human showed for scale

Real explosion samples from the ActionVFX Explosions collection. Human showed for scale

3dt: What are the major hurdles in getting good VFX into a film or TV show?
RPL: I think time is the biggest hurdle. Thats all it boils down to in the end. For example, a lot of our clients do VFX for both feature films and TV shows, and the quality difference between the two is usually obvious. Same company and artists, but the end result for TV shows is less impressive. Why? Because theres not as much time in TV. One client recently shared with us that he received footage to work on two days before a TV episode aired. Aired! No matter how talented the artist is, he or shes never going to be able to create the best work on such a short deadline.

Thats one problem we help alleviate for our customers. Using ActionVFX stock footage cuts down a lot of the time needed to create and render a simulation from scratch, and when used right, results in a much more realistic end product.

Rodolphe and Luke review a shot during the ActionVFX Gun FX shoot

Rodolphe and Luke review a shot during the ActionVFX Gun FX shoot

3dt: What is the most exciting thing you see in future of VFX?
RPL: Oh man, very hard quesion to answer! There are so many exciting things being rolled out every day. I would say the most exciting thing is the idea that very soon, talent will be the only limitation to what an artist is able to create. Twenty years ago, the idea that one person could create breath-taking VFX on their home computer was unheard of. Now, a talented solo artist with a computer and the right software can create better VFX than feature films in the 1990s that had large VFX teams and budget.

I believe the barriers are only going to get lower, and the price of entry will keep decreasing. That, to me, is very exciting!

3dt: Whats next for the company? Do you have any exciting projects on the way?
RPL: We just wrapped Phase One of our vision, and were now working on Phase Two. Were actually in the middle of an intensive five-week shoot right now, and we hope to release these new products in the fall. Were both updating some of our current collections, as well as creating some brand new ones. Were also evolving from just action elements; theres more to visual effects than blowing things up, and we want to contribute more to those needs as well.

One collection to look forward to is our Water FX. So far, users have had to solely rely on time-consuming simulations for realistic water effects. We plan to change that with our new wave of effects!

Before and after using the ActionVFX Structure Fire collection to burn down a house

Before and after using the ActionVFX Structure Fire collection to burn down a house

Related links

If youre in the market for high quality visual effects head over to the ActionVFX website
RodyPolis has even more effects if youre interested in something a little different

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