Luca Zappala VFX Supervisor

Ex-Machina wins the Academy award for best visual effects!

One more statuette, I’ve now worked on four Academy award for best VFX winning feature films throughout my carreer.
On average one every six feature films I worked on has won the oscar.


My work on Cinefex’s article The VFX of “Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell”

The article can be found here:

Episode 2 Opening Sequence Rainships:

Answering director Toby Haynes’s request for a sequence that resembled a Turner painting, the Milk team combined live-action rowing boats (shot against greenscreen in a Yorkshire pond), simulated ocean environments and CG ships. Swirling displacement effects and interactive rain reinforced the ghostly navy’s subtle, dreamlike appearance.

Rainships-1 Rainships-2

Episode 5 Waterloo Opening Shot:

“Every cannon had five soldiers around it, which was historically correct,” observed Deguara. Simulation systems permitted each cannon to “fire” automatically. “The simulation worked out the projection of the cannonball, and where it would hit the ground,” explained Hernandez. “We imported it into Maya, where we used a library of explosions that triggered procedurally. The first version we did of the shot looked like a Michael Bay film! We had 25,000 explosions, and the whole screen was covered in smoke!”








Episode 5 Opening Sequence Vines:








Episode 5 Waterloo Battle Waterspout:

When the building behind him catches fire, Strange summons a giant waterspout from a well and uses it to extinguish the flames. “We had big fire hydrants and hoses there on the day,” recalled Deguara, “and we had real water pitching down over the doorway – interactive elements for when the soldiers run out. We did the shot with two camera moves, which we joined together. Our digital waterspout comes out of the well, then splits into five sections to put out the fire.”

The main body of the waterspout was procedurally generated in Houdini, with extra detail built up using liquid flip and white water simulations, plus layers of mist. Additional procedural tweaks were used subsequently to allow artists to choreograph the animation of the liquid. The central column was rendered in Maya using Arnold, while Mantra handled the more finely detailed effects in Houdini.

My Gore tool in an article by CreativeCow

Milk VFX CEO Will Cohen pointed out that these kinds of approaches are very adaptable. “Everything you develop in one movie, every way you evolve, you carry through to the next. During the course of Hercules, when it was originally a gorefest, we developed something called a Gore Tool.”

As Nicolas explains, “This allows any kind of source — say, a sword — to meet a target on the body, it can generate any kind of fluids, blood spurts, wounds — it’s very realistic. We developed it in parallel with our other work because a lot of shots needed gore enhancement. As these things go, the film became PG-13, but the gore is applied as a matte, sort of like a pass, and could be easily adjusted. If we needed to change the amount of gore, that was the only part of the scene that needed re-rendering.

Hercules Shots I contributed to in articles around the web

Creative Cow



Art of VFX











My article contribution released on 3D Artist issue 60

I contributed to 3D Artist issue 60 by writing an article about visual effects workflows

I’m the guy in the very last picture bottom right









and here’s the cover


My Interview on It’s art magazine

I’ve recently been interviewed by Sebastien of It’s art magazine (thanks for offering the space)  where I’ve been covering some interesting points about the VFX industry: