CoSA's Michael Adkisson Discusses The Studio's Work On AMC's NOS4A2

Michael Adkisson joined CoSA VFX in 2018 and is the resident Visual Effects Supervisor for CoSA VFX Vancouver. Michael has been in the visual effects industry for 23 years and worked on a variety of projects as artist and supervisor in formats ranging from commercials to large format IMAX films. Some of his credits include "The Amazing Spider-Man 2", "Tron: Legacy", "Watchmen", "The Dark Tower", and "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2". Having gained his experience at such studios as MPC, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Digital Domain, and others, Michael brings a wide range of experience to the CoSA team.

A native of Los Angeles, Michael grew up around the entertainment industry. Having a natural ability with computers, he found his way into visual effects through Warner Digital Studios in 1995. Michael spent the next decade working in Los Angeles at various visual effects facilities gaining a wide range of knowledge about the post production industry. In 2006, Michael moved to Vancouver, BC and began contributing his experience to the Canadian visual effects industry.

In 2015 due to the growth of streaming content, Michael began to focus his work on serial content with a Compositing Supervisor role at Psyop working on such projects as The Walking Dead, Zoolander 2, and The X-Files. Moving to a role as Visual Effects Supervisor at FuseFX in 2016 and then ultimately to CoSA VFX in 2017, Michael has continued to work on such episodic projects as The Walking Dead, The Passage, Roswell New Mexico, iZombie, and NOS4A2.

As well as leading and contributing to ongoing work at CoSA VFX, Michael is actively involved in helping improve the internal processes that make up CoSA VFX. His vast experience across many varying project, formats, and visual effects facilities brings a unique perspective to the table.

The spooky and scary NOS4A2 launched this Sunday, June 2 on AMC and is yet another project that CoSA has worked on for the network, following such series as The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead. If you missed it on Sunday night, the entire series premiere is now available on AMC's website.

Based on Joe Hill's 2013 best-selling novel of the same name, NOS4A2 follows Vic McQueen, played by Ashleigh Cummings (The Goldfinch), a gifted young woman who discovers she has a supernatural ability to find lost things. This ability puts her on a collision course with the evil and immortal Charlie Manx, played by Emmy(R)-nominee Zachary Quinto (Star Trek, American Horror Story, Heroes). Manx is a supernatural villain who feeds off the souls of children then deposits what remains of them into Christmasland - a twisted place of Manx's imagination where every day is Christmas Day and unhappiness is against the law. Vic strives to defeat Manx and rescue his victims - without losing her mind or falling victim to him herself.

As CoSA VFX continues to celebrate our 10-year anniversary, we are putting a spotlight on this project by talking with Michael Adkisson about CoSA's involvement with NOS4A2.

What was it about NOS4A2 that made it a great fit for CoSA VFX?

For NOS4A2, CoSA VFX was able to call on our background of supplying environment enhancements for shows, such as Gotham, The Walking Dead, and many other shows, to contribute to the creation of the Shorter Way Bridge and Christmasland. Our talented artists were readily able to bring both story elements to life.

What kinds of sequences did CoSA bring to the table for the show?

The two main sequences CoSA contributed to revolved around the Shorter Way Bridge and Christmasland. For the Shorter Way Bridge, CoSA brought to screen a rickety covered bridge that allows Vic McQueen to find lost objects. Additionally, CoSA helped bring Charlie Manx's mysterious Christmasland to life.

What was the most challenging sequence for the first episode?

Probably the most challenging aspect of our work on episode 1 was helping to visualize what Vic experiences as she rides across the Shorter Way Bridge. Every time Vic uses her powers to make the Shorter Way Bridge appear, she has to pay a price. The price resulted in Vic suffering from physical pain after exiting the bridge. CoSA was helped to visualize what Vic's experience was like when crossing the bridge.

How familiar were the CoSA artists with the original book by Joe Hill?

At the beginning of the project, there was a portion of the team that were knowledgeable about NOS4A2 and, as we began diving into the content, we all became fast fans of the book.

As CoSA was not the sole vendor for NOS4A2, did you have any interaction with other vendors to make it happen?

Yes, we worked on some shared shots with another vendor that required CoSA to apply our work on top of images delivered from them. Everything went quite smoothly.

How many CoSA visual artists work on a typical episode of NOS4A2?

Somewhere around 15-25 artist form both the Vancouver and Los Angeles offices were involved in each episode. At CoSA, we're able to have elements created in one office quickly sent to another office for further work. We generally operate as one big team and move work fluidly between our 3 offices.

What was your response upon seeing the trailer for NOS4A2?

It was definitely very exciting to see CoSA's work show up in the trailer, especially knowing how much of a role the visuals we created will help to tell the story.

Are there members of your NOS4A2 VFX team that you feel deserve special recognition for their work on this series?

It goes without saying the every person on the team was pivotal in completing the work on NOS4A2 at CoSA. Though I'd like to definitely thank the artist leadership team of Ronald Herbst, Brian Fisher, Linus Burghardt, and Mark Nazal, as well as the CoSA core production team of Anwei Chen and Heather Wasylchuk.

A trailer for AMC's NOS4A2 can be found below. As mentioned before, Episode 1 is available ad-free on AMC's website!