We recently sat down with Ralph Scaglione of FLYfx, a visual effects and post production house
located north of Manhattan. The owner/creative director Ralph Scaglione has had a long career in
compositing, beginning in his early 20′s first as an online editor at Broadway Video in NYC
where he found his niche in the emerging technologies of the day – Multi channel ADO, Mirage
and Kaleidoscope, where the other editors did not necessarily want to specialize. Ralph jumped
in with both feet and also pursued the emerging desktop video revolution with the Video Toaster
and other apps. This combination of toys was the beginning of his love of VFX. But when
Flame came out, he naturally gravitated towards it and never looked back. Autodesk’s Smoke
was the next big jump, and it was this system that really brought it all together for Ralph – editing
and VFX all in one box – perfect!
When describing FLYfx, Ralph told us, “We have pitched ourselves to all the NYC VFX houses
as “the perfect overflow support” as we are not really their competition. We like to bill ourselves
as able to do anything impossible – specializing in tracking, product replacement, beauty work,
finishing and basically making clients REALLY happy. But my depth of experience really
allows me to tackle almost anything. We try to make every project a home run on every level.
Enthusiasm for the craft is job one at FLYfx – we bring a serious level of commitment to client
satisfaction on every job.”
IS: Can you tell us about recent projects on which you used Mocha, Mocha Pro or Mocha AE
Ralph: We have used Mocha recently for a wire removal project for HBO’s “Bored To Death” – a
perfect example of overflow support. This was one impossible shot that the VFX company just
could not get done in time with everything else on their plate. We got the call from Carol
Jazwinski from PostWorks, NY, where they were racing to get this shot out the door. We picked
up the second half of the shot and seamlessly continued the wire removal. Mocha was used to
track the many little bits, and and the 4 corner tracking data was sent back to the Smoke
Advanced. Literally bit by bit we erased the wires. There was extensive roto work as well.
Mocha was essential to the success of this project and so many more here at FLYfx. Last year, I
was working on a series of State Farm Commercials with Cut and Run in NYC where I was
working on-premises, using their machines. These were also very heavy Mocha sequences, and
some of those projects. mocha was used to track and also as a roto station to cut out the various
elements that would change magically after the State Farm jingle was sung. Done and Dusted
also tapped FLYfx to help out with some cleanup on the recent “Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show”
on CBS where we used Mocha to track various wardrobe malfunctions and to remove camera
men from a handful of shots. So we’ve been very busy with Mocha, literally on a day to day
basis and as part of just about everything we do.
IS: What other software do you use, and how does mocha integrate into your workflow?
Ralph: We use After Effects, Flame and Smoke Advanced, which all rely on tracking data from
mocha. We export all of our mocha tracking data, as well as rendered mattes and mask shape
data to the various apps. Offloading this type of work is a huge help and mocha has never let us
IS: How much time was spent in post-production and VFX?
Ralph: On the “Bored To Death” project, we worked around the clock for several days.
IS: How many shots were tracked with Mocha products? How did Mocha assist the process?
Ralph: The Planar Tracker was the perfect tool for the wire removal job, without it, we would
have had to do a lot more manual tweaks and probably a ton more roto work, which as we all
know, never works out as well.
IS: Besides using Mocha‘s Planar Tracker, what other Mocha Pro features did you take
advantage of to hit your deadlines?
Ralph: Matte cutting, which is one of the most time consuming things we do, is greatly enhanced
with mocha. Often we work with one person on the Flame and a second person on Mocha cutting
mattes. When we get to the point where we have some headway, then mocha takes over all the
matte cutting and we move onto compositing. We often find ourselves stopping the matte cutter
so he/she can create some tracking data quickly, then go back to the roto.
IS: Can you talk about any particular challenges or shots that Mocha helped on? Would these
shots have been more difficult to achieve in another set of tools?
Ralph: The Victoria Secret Fashion Show was a great example. The Flame could easily track
some of the shots for the required cleanup but it would be unlikely that it would be able to
achieve the four corner tracking data that made our comps absolutely perfect. This time saved
from using Mocha allowed us to put more time into finessing the final comps – and very little
time was wasted trying to “manually” adjust any comps – which again, never really works
The time saving precision and quality makes Mocha our day to day go-to tool for just about everything we do in post!