Ara Khanikian , Visual Effects Supervisor for Birdman, Speaks in Boston


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By Nancy Kalajian

BOSTON — Montreal-based Ara Khanikian, visual effects supervisor for “Birdman (or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” was in Boston in January as a guest speaker for a meeting of the Boston Creative Pro User Group. Birdman just won an Academy Award as Best Picture and its director, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, also won an Oscar.

Khanikian works for Rodeo FX as a VFX Supervisor and Head of 2D. Started in 2006, Rodeo FX now employs about 200 professionals, and has offices in Montreal, Quebec City and now Los Angeles.

The Bright Family Screening Room at the Paramount Center at Emerson College in the Theatre District of Boston was filled to capacity to hear the engaging Khanikian share his technical experiences as the Visual Effects Supervisor for “Birdman.” With permission, he showed before and after footage of certain segments of the film, and described how his team reworked those segments for the final product.

Audience members were impressed with the quality of how he and his team engineered the scenes for the final production. Thousands of hours were made by the dedicated video FX team to complete the film. Meeting various deadlines and working extensive hours to complete very short but technically-complex scenes were just a few of the challenges posed to this creative, hard-working team.

Born in Lebanon of Armenian heritage, Khanikian moved to Montreal many years ago. In his busy career, he has worked on more than 60 feature films, including “The Hunger Games” and “Unbroken.” Considered a master of capturing realistic images, he has worked with many other professionals in the field to meet technical and artistic challenges.

Also speaking at the meeting was Sean Devereaux, VFX supervisor and co-founder of Boston-based Zero VFX; he enthusiastically spoke of his company’s recent work on the visual effects for “The Equalizer.”

A post-event reception held at nearby Salvatore’s offered many attendees the opportunity to chat with the guest speakers.