MECHnology VFX Produces 400 Visual Effects for ABC Family's The Middleman

Burbank, CA, September 04, 2008 --( Burbank’s MECHnology Visual effects finished the first season of ABC Family’s The Middleman, producing almost 400 visual effects for the series.

Based on the comic book series, written and produced by Javier “Javi” Grillo-Marxuach, the series follows Wendy Watson (Natalie Morales), a struggling artist working at a temp agency that meets The Middleman (Matt Keeslar) who is recruited and trained as the next Middleman. “Fighting evil so you don’t have to” the duo gets their orders through Ida “an android disguised as a librarian” receiving orders from the “organization to secret to know”. Battling comic book like villains, ranging from a Terracotta Warrior to flying Peruvian Pike fish, Wendy and The Middleman always save the day.

Every script provided new criteria for the effects team. Rocket boosters on Smart Cars, ancient temples, sorority ghosts and melting rays just to name a few. One of the real joys working on the series was balancing out the reality with the fun comic book styling that Javier envisioned. A perfect example is a sequence where The Middleman’s headquarters goes into lockdown. Originally steel doors were added that slide down, covering every window and doorway outside the building. Javier wanted to go further, so giant segmented steel panels were created that emerge from behind the building completely sealing it in. Stephen Lebed, Visual Effects Supervisor for the series summed it up this way. “Javier has the ability to reference any specific detail about any sci-fi movie or television show. His love of all things sci-fi and comic related helped to guide us in driving the art.”

One of the biggest challenges working on the "The Middleman" was the amount of shots and the extremely short turnarounds. Episodes averaged between 20 and 80 effects, with the artists at MECHnology delivering finished effects within five days of receiving the plates. “This series was one of the most challenging I’ve ever worked on from a time perspective.” recalls Lebed, “Production started late due to the writer’s strike, causing everything on the back end to become compressed.”

Turning around 80 shots in five days is also tough from a data management standpoint. It’s crucial to be on top of your game making sure correct frames and length have been received. That no files are corrupt while keeping track of the shots between artists to ensure timely delivery. Many shots had B, C and D plates to keep track of as well. At the same time you are beginning pre-visualization for the next episode while receiving last minute network changes from the previous episode.

One of the more difficult shots was in the season finale. Wendy Watson (The Middleman’s sidekick) finds herself in an alternate world with run down monorails, giant video displays, and strange buildings. This was the single longest shot completed for the series at over 30 seconds, all shot hand held. The custom monorail and the distant skyscrapers were built in Autodesk 3ds Max. Compositing was done in Combustion and Shake.

Additional work completed for the series included various effect design, 3d modeling, character animations, digital matte paintings, set extensions, and rig removals.

For additional information & copy of demo reel contact Julie Leibovitz 818.840.9500, or visit

About MECHnology - MECHnology is a full service feature film and television visual effects company. MECHnology s has a production friendly focus, with the ability for fast turn-around. Specializing in 3-D animation, compositing, set extensions, digital matte paintings, on-set supervision, and DI processing. Clients include ABC Family, Warner Brothers, Disney, MGM, CW, 20th Century Fox and many independent feature film productions.

Contact: Julie Leibovitz
Company: MECHnology VFX

Mechnology Visual Effects
Julie Leibovitz