Volume 15

May 01, 2018

The Americans

Season 6 Promo

We were dedicated to the idea of capturing as much as possible in camera.

As the final season of The Americans drew near, FX came to us looking for a promo that would ramp up the anticipation, and we were eager to get our ideas out there. Our initial pitch included 8 tease concepts ranging from live action-based to full CG.

After creative back-and-forth, the idea of the American flag being taken over by the Soviet flag not only peaked our interest, but evolved into a unique production. The simplicity of the two flags gave us a chance to tell the story in multiple layers, where we could touch on the duality of Elizabeth and Philip, as well as the Soviet Union and America.

The fun and challenging side of production was coming up with a way to create this transformation with a new and exciting approach. We were dedicated to the idea of capturing as much as possible in camera.

Susi Sie - On Set

In a great team effort, FX undertook the shooting of the flag and BigStar shot custom ink mattes with one of our favorite elemental directors, Susi Sie, who captured the microscopic effect of the fabric bleeding out and transitioning. Combining these live-action elements with CG created here at BigStar developed a seamless end product that would best represent the concept as a whole.

Early CG Test vs. Final Picture - 3D by Josh Clos
Final Flag Transition - by Josh Clos

Both on a technical and narrative level, the promo was one of our favorites to date. Thanks again to the fantastic team at FX--we’d do it all again.

May 01, 2018

Fear the Walking Dead

Season 4 Promo

We wanted our concepts to capture the terrors that each character had endured thus far, and the physical manifestation of those experiences.

AMC reached out to us to pitch for a promo that would amplify the terror and chaos of Fear the Walking Dead season four. With this as our jumping off point, we dove right in to concept building.

"Strobe" References & Original Styleframes

We honed our initial research into learning each character’s personal struggles throughout the series and then the broader story as a whole. After in-depth writing and reference gathering, we ended up pitching 7 unique concepts.

Design by Doug Chang, Animation by Brian Landisman

The creative stars aligned and we won the pitch with our concept, “STROBE”. AMC produced original shots of the characters in a dark environment that allowed each main character a chance to profile their storylines. Using bites from the show, we carefully selected phrases that would frame their identities, nod to potential twists in season four, and get the fans’ blood racing.

Our editor, Jose Laya teamed up with one of our most trusted in-house animators, Brian Landisman, to energize the footage and create a visceral promo that’s percussive, aggressive and fun as hell to watch. The sound design and pulsing interplay between character moments, zombie counterparts, and typography builds up each person’s fears and flaws, as we quickly transition in and out of close-ups, landscapes, and flashes of “walkers”.

We also designed uniquely rendered type for each keyword, creating a style and specialized color palette that would evoke a feeling of the rot and decay of zombies.

Design by Doug Chang

In the end, we delivered a hard-hitting 60-second and 30-second spot that would be used across all platforms to ramp up excitement for the season 4 premiere. Thanks again to our partners at AMC!

Animation by Brian Landisman

April 23, 2018

Artist Spotlight: Jose Laya


Jose Laya has been one of our go-to editors for years. He brings passion and good humor to each project, and his collaborative insights lend an energy that often translates into his work, where he weaves his signature rhythm and pace. Consistently, Jose cuts punchy, exciting, and resonant edits. He has become an essential creative on our longer title sequences such as Rats and 15 Septembers Later, as well as our latest promos for Fear the Walking Dead. He’s also edited all of our spots for DirecTV Ligas, which enabled him to use his bilingual skill-set.  

Jose is truly a delight to work with, and we’re excited to share how he came to be the editor he is today.

"RATS" Main Title - Edit by Jose Laya

Q&A with Jose Laya -

When did you first realize you wanted to be an editor? How long have you been editing?
I grew up and went to college in Venezuela when there were only a couple of places where you could edit on a computer. This was the era before Final Cut, so we had to sneak into my friend’s office late at night if we wanted to cut our personal projects, and I’ve loved it ever since. When I moved to Miami in 2004, I started working as a writer/producer, and shortly after there was an opening for a junior editor position. I jumped on the chair and stayed there until now.

What makes you love what you do?
Being a freelancer gives me the opportunity to work with new people all the time: animators, creatives, producers, other editors. It’s one of my favorite things about working in the industry. I’ve made many long-lasting friendships, and that is priceless.

How do you determine the success of a piece?
Obviously a very important part is delivering a piece that the client loves and that’s on time and under budget. But it’s also cool to see the reception online, since a lot of the pieces I make end up posted on social media. It’s easy to see the engagement, and it’s always gratifying to read positive feedback from people who weren’t involved.

Fear the Walking Dead Promo - Edit by Jose Laya

What perspective do you bring to the industry / what makes you different?
A lot of my education in college was related to social sciences, and since then I’ve always focused on the importance of making sure that the ideas are being communicated clearly. It’s a common issue to try to say too many things at the same time while not really focusing on the main message. I also like doing projects with very short deadlines — it forces me to be more creative, and because there’s no time to waste, everybody has to get on the same page from day one.

What is your ultimate goal as an editor?
Creating work that’s effective and compelling. There’s too much information out there and too many options, so for me it’s important to not waste my audience’s time. If I have only 30 seconds or whatever of their time, I don’t want them to be thinking about skipping. 

...for me it’s important to not waste my audience’s time. If I have only 30 seconds or whatever of their time, I don’t want them to be thinking about skipping.

15 Septembers Later Open - Edit by Jose Laya

What/who has influenced you the most?
I’ve worked with some great editors who helped build my skills, and most of my friends are in the industry and provide a constant source of inspiration. Lately I’ve also been interested in indie productions on YouTube and other online platforms. I find a lot of good content that’s being produced independently with lots of creative freedom, and it has opened a huge Pandora’s box of new ways to create content and tell stories.

Do you have any side-projects you continue to work on?
I’ve been doing comedy and improv for the past couple of years, and it’s a great creative outlet, and very useful when the working environment is tense and somebody needs to tell a joke. Even if I bomb, it’s still fun.

Swamp People & Cazadores "Che Sings" - Personal Work by Jose Laya

Volume 14

Next Project: Volume 14
Telling the Bigger Story