Top 6 of Merc's VFX on Versus Valerie

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It's been a bit of a dream working on the visual effects team for Versus Valerie, the amazing spinoff of Sexy Nerd Girl. As the season is coming to a close and the finale episode fast approaches, here's a compiled list of vfx shots Merc had the pleasure of working on for Val's story. In no particular order! I don't pick favourites here. They were just a lot of fun to work on.

Each episode has its own theme borrowed from one popular, geeky universe or another. The inaugural episode that kicked of the series called for an intro sequence in the style of BBC's hit series Sherlock. There's even a breakdown of how the effect was built, if you want to see how it was done. But really it was...elementary.

VFX Completed: Title sequence with a tilt-shift effect.


Episode 4 was the introduction of the Doctor, so of course that meant borrowing elements from Doctor Who. Admittedly I've only ever seen one episode of our good Doctor (but I've been told that it was the best episode, so quit while I'm ahead, yeah?), but am a big fan of the opening sequence. Recreating it was a bit of an experiment in creating a particle system for the tunnel and "piloting" a virtual camera through it.

VFX Completed: Travelling through time-space vortex with 3D text.


Speaking of the introduction of the good Doctor, when he shows up in Val's life when she's down in the alcohol-filled dumps his appearance is most epic.

VFX Completed: Animated 3D text, particle sparks, Michael Bay explosion behind the Doctor with some delicious lightwrap around him for good measure.


When Val and Peter Chao face off in Episode 6, they threw their balls down. A FPS paintball action sequence as Val tore up the battlefield and decimated her opponents. BOOM! Head shot.

VFX Completed: First-person HUD with moving reticule and compass/map; animated splashes of paint off of Val's kills.


Who no like adding blood and guts to the zombies? Very simple, but always fun. In Episode 7, Valerie faced her fears of past relationships and emotional baggage as we all eventually do: they take the form of the walking dead and she kicks some Ash!

VFX Completed: Adding gun blasts / sprays of blood to zombies, ejecting shotgun shells from Val's gun, blood spray hitting boxes behind zombie.


The series made use of a lot of great transitions from scene-to-scene. One of my favourites to work on was the transformation of Lyra from nerdy comic book clerk to Harley Quinn in mid-conversation with Val. Two shots blended into one, tracking and matchmoving the camera and some colour correction made her entrance a surprise.

VFX Completed: Like I said, two shots blended into one...tracking...matchmoving the camera action...colour correction...Surprise!


Phew! That's just to name a few. It's been great working with the vfx team on the show, along with Davin Lengyel and (in later episodes) Xerxes Cortex. And, of course, with director Mike Fly at the helm keeping us on track and guiding us along the way.

The big finale is coming up soon, so be sure to subscribe to Versus Valerie and catch it first when it comes out on August 8th.



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Wiping the dust off this filmmaker's blog

Where did all these cobwebs come from? I thought I closed this place up good when I last left it. So I've been a bit absent from the posts lately, but that is all going to be fixed. Starting right now.

Some of you may be wondering what I've been up to lately. Others may just be wondering what it is that I do...period. How about I answer these with a quick update activity here.

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First of all, if you follow my comings-and-goings you may have known that last November I was in Seattle on the set of The Gamers: Hands of Fate serving as both co-director of photography (there were 3 of us for 3 separate segments of the film) and visual effects supervisor for the "epic" portions of the shoot (Hint: #00FF00 has a large part of it). Now the film is steeped in post-production goodness. Over the course of the next few months, I'll be working on compositing green-screen footage against some lovely backgrounds provided by the post-production's digital matte painter.

As with most projects, I have approached the directors and producers with the idea of putting together behind-the-scenes material of the visual effects work and they were receptive to it, so hopefully you can expect to see that. But, as always, they have the final say if they don't want anything released until the film is completed and screened. Always have to be wary of spoilers. But here's the teaser trailer cut with footage from GenCon last summer.

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In the meantime, there is a project that I'm a part of that you can see. As in right now. The web series Versus Valerie has launched and hit the interwebs with the force of a thousand suns! It follows the character Valerie Lapomme (whom you may or may not know as Sexy Nerd Girl from her ongoing vlog). This is a narrative story showing her life outside of the bedroom (mind out of the gutter, folks) and how she deals with her many day-to-day challenges with the odd escape into her imagination to help. Episode 1 launched on March 7th and a new episode is released every other week, each one styled on a different nerd sub-genre (eg. Star Wars, Star Trek, FPS shooters, etc.). I've been working in the visual effects department on Versus Valerie along with another vfx artist, Davin Lengyel. One of the areas you can see my work in are the title sequences for each episode.

Here's a breakdown of the first episode's title sequence. The episode itself was styled off of the BBC series Sherlock, hence the look of the title sequence here.

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One other role that I just recently took on was picking up editing for the comedy series, The Gate. This series was produced with a team of Toronto web series creators including Elize Morgan (Pretty in Geek), Jason Leaver (Out with Dad), Ash Catherwood (Microwave Porn) and Fraser Mills. The series follows St. Peter at the pearly gates of Heaven and the different characters he runs into. All of the episodes released to date were edited by Jason Leaver, but he's become busy with other production work and has made the decision to hand it over to someone else. Any fan of the Toronto web series scene would recognize that these folk are pretty much like The Expendables of web series around here, so just to be working on a project with them involved is a big honour for me.

Watch the first episode here and keep posted for when new ones will be released.

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That's it for, I'm going to be pretty busy for a while. What are you working on?

To receive updates on my work, follow me on Twitter and like my Facebook page. Them's be where I post images and videos regularly.

Breakdown of a Title Sequence - Versus Valerie (Episode 1) Last week marked the first episode of the long-awaited web series, Versus Valerie. The Sexy Nerd Girl spinoff features Valerie Lapomme (played by the oh-so-fun-to-watch Hannah Spears) and her they go through life dealing with the ordinary problems we all have to face, but we get to see the ultra-nerd Val deal with them in her own signature way: her nerdy imagination takes over and we see how she sees the rest of the world, one filled with the Borg, Jedi, and zombies.

Merc's been working away doing visual effects and title sequences for the series, which has been SUPER exciting since I've been a fan of Sexy Nerd Girl's vlog for a couple years now.

Each episode's style is based on a different sub-genre of the geek 'verse. For the first episode, I was asked to put together a title sequence that resembled that of the BBC hit series 'Sherlock'. This involved using some aerial shots of the Toronto skyline (where the show proudly takes place, by the way) and using a tilt-shift effect for the "miniature"-ized look for the show's intro.

Check out the breakdown of the title sequence below. And watch the full episode of Versus Valerie over on their channel. New episodes are released every 2 weeks.