CoSA Artist Spotlight: Magica Osment

Magica Osment was one of CoSA VFX's first hires who has moved her way up through the ranks, learning new techniques and rising to the role of Lead for the CoSA Los Angeles Environments team. A fan of the horror, Magica is a "go-to" around the company when it comes to creating something particularly gory or chilling, though her talents go well past that.

Magica is part of the team that worked on the EPIX series Pennyworth this year, including some key sequences that fans saw in recent weeks. In this interview, we speak with Magica about her CoSA experience and what it was like to bring these Pennyworth moments to life.

There was a particular sequence in the fifth episode of Pennyworth that had a lot of people talking. Can you talk about that?

When we first saw the sequence, they told us that his head was going to explode, and they were thinking at first, 'you know, maybe just leave a little piece of him,' and they decided it will be something like just his jaw. I had to do the concept or the lookdev of it, where I just kind of put random things together, like brains, a tongue in there the last minute… and Mark [Nazal] decided that, 'hey, why don't we first use spam and some some fake blood stuff?' Later on, we decided on dog food, just because we needed some good splat.

We had a green screen where we just started shooting all these things, with dog food flying all over the place. It was awesome. I love to do anything that would shock the audience. So if whenever there's  any kind of gore shot, I'm always going to jump on that opportunity it's my favorite type of VFX.

 

Are you usually the go-to person here at CoSA for those kinds of sequences?

Yes, I hope so. I think they know I want to do it. I'm like a prairie dog - my ears perk up when I hear words  "bloodshed, amputations, disfiguring, mutilation"..Oh it's a beauty shot? Gimme, gimme!

Is it fun for you to get to shoot stuff on the green screen to add into your shots?

Absolutely. It's also very useful instead of me trying to go online and look for elements that are not working in that particular angle. It's actually pretty tough to get that to land right.

There was another sequence in Pennyworth episode 5 that you were particularly proud of. Can you talk about that?

In [Episode] 105, there's another thing where Lord Harewood's feet were chopped off, I did the lookdev and comped one of the shots for that as well. I was ecstatic to do it. I thought it would be something grotesque, so I started slightly too extreme - guillotine style chop, ground meat stumps, and jagged skin… I think it was too much [laugh].

Does it help that you are creating horrible things happening to really horrible people?

Yes, I've had previous experience with that, in Gotham. There's always something - Alice's Madness vein effects, blown or chopped up body parts, lacerations, mutilations, gun shot wounds, morphing Poison Ivy's face. I didn't do this one but amarried couple that gets crushed with a wrecking ball or when Fish Mooney pulls out her eye and steps on it. I basically learned from Gotham.

You've now been with CoSA for 8 years. Can you talk about how much you've grown at the company?

This is my first job in VFX. I never went to any other studio; I came straight from the L.A. Film School. I was very, very newbie at everything. In beginning I started out with simple things like roto, easy keys for green screen  monitors, color correcting, painting and cleaning out crew from plates.

Is it true that here at CoSA, they encourage you to learn more?

Absolutely. The first thing David [Beedon] told me when I started was that he likes an artist who's a jack of all trades. My skill set includes digital painting for concept (while learning matte painting on the side) and Nuke compositing. I'm also learning blender which is an amazing 3D program for digital sculpting, modeling assets & characters, and procedural texturing. One of my side hobbies is creating CG food (pizza, donuts, burgers, etc) and  low-poly assets hand painted textures for game assets.

Have you been able to do any of that for your work here?

Food, here? No, but I did get the opportunity to concept and model a little game character for the Minority Report show. You can see him in the first episode when the main character is playing a virtual game at the bar.

When you're doing concepts, do you draw it out, like by pen, or are you doing on the computer?

I do it digitally. Usually I'll do a 3D base, because a 3D base helps a lot. Then I'll draw on top of that, which is basically what our DMP artists do here in Modo or Blender.

What kinds of media do you look to for inspiration?

TV, movies, video games… I'm a gamer, and I take a lot of inspiration from the world building within a game, especially if it has shock value. Games like Resident Evil, Silent Hill, P.T. Deadspace, Amnesia, Until Dawn, and Outlast. For environments, I take inspiration from games such as Mass Effect Trilogy, StarCraft, Halo, and Deus Ex. For movies and TV - Hannibal, Hellraiser, IT, the Expanse, Star Trek, and The Exorcist - and any type of paranormal project with ghosts and demons motivate me to recreate it.

What would you say to someone who is considering entering the field of visual effects?

Collect a lot reference pictures and build a visual library for yourself or it will be very difficult. Stay current with what ever program you're learning and inhale tutorials as if it's oxygen.
 
For me it's never about being precise or accurate on how something is supposed to look in reality. As long as I get an emotional response when some sees my shot… for instance Tom [Mahoney] laughing at the screen when he saw the jaw remains plop on the floor. Then I know "Yes! I did my job!"

You can see more of Magica's work on Pennyworth below.


ABOUT CoSA VFX

Founded in 2009, CoSA VFX has grown from a small boutique into a thriving visual effects studio with offices in Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Vancouver. The CoSA VFX team has received Emmy nominations and wins for their work on TV series including Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Almost Human, Revolution, and Gotham, and currently provides visual effects for multiple studios, networks and streaming television services.

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