Hats off to Vancouver-based Distillery VFX on their well-deserved triumph at the recent Emmys! They were part of the team that won the ‘Outstanding Special Visual Effects in a Season or a Movie’ Emmy award for their exceptional work in seamlessly constructing the post-apocalyptic world in two episodes of HBO’s THE LAST OF US.

According to VFX producer Greg Kegel, their artistry lies in creating invisible effects, skillfully convincing viewers that something happened when, in reality, it was never there – a true slight-of-hand magic trick that captivates audiences.

A dedicated team of about 50 individuals at Distillery VFX poured nearly a year of tireless effort into the critically acclaimed Episode 3, ‘Long Long Time,’ and Episode 7, ‘Left Behind.’ One of these episodes transport viewers to a fortified, small rural town and while the other to an abandoned mall. Remarkably, the sets were only half-built, lacking the signs of post-apocalyptic decay that define the show’s universe. Countless hours of work behind a computer screen transformed them into living, breathing environments, so convincingly that many people were oblivious to the presence of any visual effects at all.

Still from Episode 3 ‘Long, Long Time’ © 2023 Courtesy of HBO

As part of a group of VFX studios contributing to the series, it is a monumental achievement by Distillery VFX. Established just five years ago, the studio persevered through challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the Hollywood strike.

This win adds another milestone to their portfolio, having previously crafted VFX for Star Wars titles like AHSOKA and THE MANDALORIAN, along with the Netflix film LEAVE THE WORLD BEHIND. Their talent will be on display again in the new Band of Brothers-linked World War II air combat series, MASTERS OF THE AIR, now streaming on Apple TV.

As THE LAST OF US prepares to resume filming early this year in Vancouver, Distillery VFX stands as a testament to the artistry and resilience that define their success in the competitive world of visual effects. If you haven’t watched it yet, you can stream the latest season on Crave now.

Header photo from Episode 7, ‘Left Behind.’ – © HBO