Zoic Studios Completes 'Buffy' Tenure with Smash Final Episode
written by Katie Mackal; from Creative Planet Communities

Visual effects supervisors Loni Peristere and Patti Gannon and the artists at Zoic Studios are working long into the nights to create visual effects for the final episode of one of television's most popular series. Long-running cult hit "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," produced by 20th Century Fox Television and broadcast on UPN, is wrapping up, with its final episode to air on May 20, 2003.

While at Radium, POP, Digital Magic and now Zoic Studios, Peristere and his effects team has worked closely with Joss Whedon in creating the visual effects sequences for "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" since its first season. Peristere and digital effects supervisor Patti Gannon, who doubles as the lead compositor on "Buffy," started tossing ideas around months ago for the final show, tentatively titled "Chosen." Gannon, who was a freelance compositor before joining Zoic, is the company's main link to the production team.

"Patti has a gift for making the production team feel at ease with even the most complex effects sequences," Peristere said. Chris Zapara, whose team won an Emmy for its work on the Sci-Fi miniseries "Dune," heads the CG effort for the finale. Details, of course, are strictly hush-hush, But Zapara hints that Buffy may be getting "up close and personal" with an enormous übervamp army she had a vision of a few episodes back. "I wish I could talk more about what we're doing," said Zapara, "but Buffy said she'd stake me if I blabbed!"

Peristere has a little more time than usual to develop effects for the "Buffy" finale. With production gearing up for the big show and the effects budgets needing to stay within reason, Peristere and his team will enhance CGI images with old-fashioned miniatures. "Whenever I can, I like to use miniatures in addition to CGI to enhance the realism of the shot," he explained. "Though I can't get into specifics, let's just say that we feel we will be taking up the high-action effects sequences fans have come to expect from the show up another notch."

To create miniatures for the finale, Peristere tapped Emmy-winning visual effects supervisor/producer Ron Thornton, who co-founded Foundation Imaging and worked there until April 2002. Thornton brings decades of experience in visual effects design, supervision and production (both digital and pre-digital). Under Peristere, Thornton is assembling a team of Los Angeles' top modelmakers and practical effects specialists to get the job done. Thornton said of his work on "Buffy" and shows like it, "I love to blow things up! Getting paid for it makes it that much better! Seriously, it's great to be able to do feature-quality work for television."

These three supervisors -- Peristere, Gannon and Thornton -- expect to deliver a memorable final show of a memorable series. Says Peristere, "Having the time and support from Joss and his team to create an epic final 'Buffy' is literally a dream come true. It's great that Zoic will be part of television history."

Peristere founded visual effects production company Zoic Studios, with partners Chris Jones and Steve Schofield, in September 2002.

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