'Firefly' gets new VFX animation in an anniversary tribute film

Original effects company Zoic Studios creates a new scene featuring Joss Whedon's plucky spaceship

Published On
Jun 07, 2018

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It's been a big year for Browncoats. Fans of "Firefly," the short-lived space-western that premiered on Fox in 2002, rarely get new content to celebrate. The TV series was canceled even before all 14 episodes aired, and despite an internet campaign that enabled creator Joss Whedon to wrap up the story with the feature film "Serenity" in 2005, it's been pretty quiet since then.

A few comics from Dark Horse have been released over the intervening years, and a planned video game release died before its debut. But three new novels were greenlit a few months ago. And now Zoic, the company that created the special effects for the series and the movie, has put together an anniversary film, complete with the first new footage of the eponymous spaceship in 13 years.

The camera pans slowly across a top-down view of a desolate, rocky landscape, reminiscent of many of the barren moons the plucky crew visited during the show's original run. Then the view tilts parallel to the horizon to follow a scrappy ship with a bulbous, glowing tail. Serenity climbs steeply, breaking atmo before the camera cuts to low orbit. Clouds scud across the surface of the planet, and the little ship speeds offscreen, complete with a new tail animation--a bit of crackling, greenish exhaust.

"We dug into the archives to create this commemorative reel, rebuilding Serenity with the original team and put together a shiny new sequence followed by an assembly of some of the most beloved and quotable moments of the franchise," Zoic writes in a note accompanying the video.

In 2002, Zoic Studios was a brand new outfit, and "Firefly" was its very first project. For the most part, the effects hold up well even 16 years later. (We won't speak of the fire in "Out of Gas.") Accelerating in space still looks great, as do many of the planetary bodies. Serenity, the ship, was essentially a tenth member of the crew, and its aesthetic was almost anthropomorphic.

Since "Firefly," Zoic has worked on shows and films like "Game of Thrones," "True Blood," "Avengers: Age of Ultron" and "Spider-Man 2." The studio has also partnered with plenty of ad agencies and production companies on spots for BMW, Trolli and Intel.


Jun 07, 2018

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