Windmill Lane head to LA for Oscar Wildes

[John Kennedy & Deborah Doherty]

[Estimated Reading Time – 3 mins]

On the back of 14 Oscar nominations – the Irish film industry is riding the crest of a wave and Windmill Lane will be on the ground in LA this Oscar season. Head of Production – Deborah Doherty – and Head of VFX – John Kennedy – are travelling to the USA this week to meet industry partners. While there, they will represent Ireland’s longest established VFX and post production studio at the Oscar Wilde Awards 2023 of which they are sponsors.

Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media in Ireland – Catherine Martin recently announced a trade mission in Los Angeles (link) to promote the Irish screen industry and Ireland’s cultural power ahead of the 2023 Academy Awards. Windmill Lane are at the forefront of Irelands growing international reputation as a hub for animation and, more recently, post-production VFX.


Oscar Wilde Awards, LA


The annual awards ceremony is held by the US-Ireland Alliance to celebrate the contribution Ireland makes to film, television, and music. It takes place during the build-up to the Oscars. The 2023 awards are scheduled for Thursday 9 March at Bad Robot, the Santa Monica production company of JJ Abrams and Katie McGrath. This year Eve Hewson will be honoured with the Wilde Card award and with An Cailín Ciúin, The Banshees of Inisherin and Aftersun being Academy award nominations – this is one year that the Irish will truly rule Hollywood come March. Deborah says:

“We’re really excited to get back to LA again and meet our clients in person as well as representing Windmill Lane at this year’s Oscar Wildes and attending the Woman in Film pre Oscar party and events at the Irish Consul. I am so proud to be part of an industry where so many Irish are being honoured and considering what we do here in Windmill, am especially proud to see recognition for Irish work in this year’s Oscar craft categories.”


[Stephen Pepper]


Major VFX Appointment 


This visit comes at a time when Windmill Lane recently announced the major appointment of Stephen Pepper [Article] – a vastly experienced VFX artist who will know the streets of Hollywood well having worked on projects including; Ironman, District 9 & Battleship. Commenting on this hire recently – John Kennedy, Head of VFX, said:

“It’s fantastic to have someone of Stephen’s calibre, reputation and experience join our team. His work across film and advertising speaks for itself. He brings with him the reassurance  of  great creative leadership that’s going to be of immense value to our crew and growing client base.”


[Dave Quinn]


US Partnerships


With a heavy contingent of Irish talent due to travel state-side in March – there will be a wealth of activities and events that will provide an opportunity to toast a rich vein of form for Irish media on the global stage. However – for Deborah and John – its business as usual having established a solid footing in the US market since 2010 and VFX playing a pivotal role in the companies vision [Sunday Independent Article]. Dave Quinn, CEO of Windmill, discusses;

We are now 45 years in business and our ambition has not abated even slightly. In fact I believe recent hires and continued demand for content globally represent massive opportunities for us. We need to stay on the forefront of technological advancements – this is key to our corporate objectives – of which VFX is significant. We are honoured to sponsor the Oscar Wilde Awards in 2023 and look forward to catching up with our industry partners – from all over the world – in LA.”


Written by Jason Gaffney

Windmill Lane’s Fred Burdy talks Wendell & Wild

This week saw the release of Netflix’s Wendell & Wild – a delirious collaboration between stop-motion animation legend Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas, Coraline) and Jordan Peele (Get Out, Us, Nope).


Wendell (Keegan-Michael Key) and Wild (Peele) are demons from the underworld seeking to enter the land of the living. Calling on 13-year-old Kat Elliot (Lyric Ross), their dastardly plan looks all set to succeed. But Kat has some demons of her own, and soon Wendell and Wild will find that the tables have turned, with some rather unexpected results.


wendell and wild


With astonishing visual imagination and VFX by Windmill Lane – Wendell & Wild has captured the imagination of both adults and children this Halloween season. Its has also been hotly tipped for an Oscar nomination come March 2023. Ahead of its premiere on Netflix Friday 28 October – I sat down with Head of CG/VFX Supervisor Fred Burdy of Windmill Lane to discuss his experience working on this major project.


So how did Fred, and Windmill Lane, come on board?

The VFX Supervisor, Mark Fattibene, contacted me – we had worked together on the My Little Pony movie with Boulder Media – Mark being a co-director on it while I was Compositing Supervisor.

We came on board as the movie had only a few months of production ahead and a tremendous amount of work to be done in VFX – and they were still shooting, too. We started with a few short sequences and eventually ended up being awarded a big fight sequence at the end of the movie that needed a lot of digital extension and FX work.”


[All images © 2022 Netflix]

Windmill Lane have grown their VFX department recently and evolved their business model to compete on the global stage – as discussed in last month’s interview with John Kennedy and Deborah Doherty. And with great power comes great responsibility. For Fred this responsibility threw up some technical challenges that pushed him and his team;

Working on stop-motion shots revealed new challenges that were great fun to tackle. We discovered that the amount of plates to work with was huge, because even simple shots had multiple exposure with different lighting setups – and more complex ones had multiple passes, multiple exposures, and quarter-scale passes for the background environments. All that was shot on motion control which helped the consistency. The production also provided us with textured 3D scans of the sets we needed to put together in our set extension, mostly done through a 2.5D matte painting approach.”


wendell and wild feature image

[All images © 2022 Netflix]

Stop motion is a filmmaking technique in which objects are physically manipulated between individual frames so that they appear to exhibit motion or change when a series of frames are played back. This technique requires patience, precision but also the ability to adapt instinctively. Fred explains;

There was a lot of rig removal to be done. Even if the animators had been very clever in hiding the rigs behind the characters most of the time, there was still a good bit of clean-up to do on all shots – and on all plates of that shot, too! Some seams on the character’s faces also had to be cleaned up when the gaps were too wide – they used replaceable head parts on set so the seams were not always consistent. We created a small in-house tool that made those clean-ups more straightforward.

The challenge for us was to add to the plates – adding fire, dust particles, or a full background environment and FX smoke – while keeping the stop-motion look, which prevented the use of a good few tricks. The animation was always sharp, being shot frame by frame, so our work had to mimic that. You couldn’t hide behind motion blur, and this made blending between plates and layers a bit more difficult, but we made it work in the end.


[All images © 2022 Netflix]

In terms of the films aesthetic – Fred and his team needed to stay away from anything too CG-looking and were keen to stay within the gorgeous tactile, hand-made look of stop motion that has made Henry Selick an auteur.

That meant finding the right amount of texture and detail in the matte paintings – we generated pretty much a 360 environment for the battle sequence, in 2.5D. We had to blend the look with the live action, and connect the two main beauty passes for that sequence – the foreground, full-scale plates with the animated characters, and the quarter scale buildings. There were differences in look – especially the snow – which we had to hide cleverly in comp. In quite a few shots we ended up generating a large amount of what’s in frame, with the background, and large FX elements taking most of the shot” says Fred.


[Fred Burdy – Head of CG/VFX Supervisor]

So as Wendell & Wild reaches cinemas this coming Friday how does Fred reflect on his experience working with the Windmill Lane team and Netflix?

The team in Windmill are amazing, despite the COVID implications that made us use an hybrid approach: some artists were on site, but most worked from home, and a good few were abroad. We were careful to have frequent catch ups and made sure that people were as involved as possible even if they were not in the office – and to be fair it worked beautifully! It was a great experience overall to work with Mark Fattibene and Heather Abels, the super talented matte painting/digital/VFX supervisor we had collaborated with before. We’re very proud of having worked on this film, and we hope people will enjoy watching it!”


[The Windmill Lane team 2022]

For more information about Windmill Lane’s VFX work please click here


Written by Jason Gaffney

Another building block to Windmill Lane’s success

Having recently gone to press discussing Windmill Lanes global ambition in VFX – Ireland’s longest running post-production studio has acquired Robert Fletcher from LEGO adding another solid block to their ambitious aims and objectives.


Robert started his career at Ballyfermot College of Further Education studying Animation before spending 10 years with Boulder Media beginning with 3d Compositing before becoming Pipeline Technical Director. Speaking about his time with Boulder Robert comments “My proudest achievement to date is having been a founding member of Boulder Media’s pipeline team, where we created a successful 3D Feature film pipeline from scratch.”


Since graduating from Ballyfermot – Robert’s career has been diverse to say the least. With todays never ending demand for content across various platforms – experience across different industries and disciplines is a big advantage. Luckily Robert has always been keen to challenge himself; “I’ve spent the last decade and a half working on a wide variety of productions, including animated TV shows, and Films, working for Clients such as BBC, Cartoon Network, Disney, Hasbro and LEGO.


Danger Mouse

[Danger Mouse, 2015]

This hasn’t been an easy journey and has required a dedication to his craft and skillset. Always keen to upskill and acquire new learnings at any opportunity Robert’s career has required patience to transition back to the media sector – his objective when starting his national higher diploma back in 2002; “I started out my career as a 3D generalist working in the Oil and Gas industry, and from there transitioned into the TV industry where I took on a variety of roles including 3D Modelling, Lighting, Compositing and finally Pipeline.

So what will Robert bring to Windmill Lane going forward? “I bring with me 15 years of experience in artist workflows, and pipeline development and will be helping to develop and mature the Windmill VFX pipeline. I am so excited to be here.


Go Jetters

[Go Jetters, 2015]

And what if things get tough? Well Windmill Lane needn’t worry as Robert lives under the mantra of a former Conservative Prime Minister – Mr Winston Churchill; “If you’re going through hell, keep going”. Lets hope there’s no need for that mindset but one things for certain – Windmill Lane have a talent that will bring knowledge, ideas and a wealth of experience.

Check out more on Roberts career here:



Written by Jason Gaffney

Donal O’Keeffe Joins Windmill Lane as Creative Director

Over the last 12 years Donal has worked across Film, TV and Advertising. His short Dead Ahead was chosen as a ‘Vimeo Staff Pick’ in 2017′. So who better to bring fresh impetus to Windmill Lane; “I hope to bring a new design perspective to the team at Windmill Lane and to add to their diverse range of talents”.

When asked about his career to date Donal states he has consistently looked to challenge himself and set new goals; “I graduated from Limerick School of

Art and Design in 2004 before completing a Masters in Film from UCD 2006. I then relocated to London in 2009 and over the past 12 years I moved from being a motion designer at ITV/ITN, to senior designer at Gramercy Park Studios in Soho and finally to become an art director and commercials director at MPC Advertising in 2016”.

A healthy studio is always growing and changing, challenging itself to do better and so with Donal joining the business – it provides a new sense of energy, experience and momentum. Established in 1978 Windmill Lane will celebrate 45 years of trading in 2023. However – appointing accomplished talent, such as Donal, marks their intention to evolve with market demands.

So what drove Donal’s decision to join Windmill Lane in March 2022? “My creative aim has always been to create clean and strong visuals that tell a story, to be original and bold, and finally to work with people that share my enthusiasm and ambition”.

Donal works continuously on personal projects to help focus his creative ideals and to fulfil his obsessive need to create. Should you wish to learn more, connect with Donal or just absorb his portfolio – regular updates can be found here on his Behance page; Donal O’Keeffe Behance 

In Conversation With…

Would you like a tea or coffee Ed?

Coffee please

Sit down and tell us about yourself…

I joined Windmill in 2022 as Head of Operations. Prior to arriving at Windmill I was lucky enough to fulfil a childhood dream and worked for almost 2 decades in the animation industry. I also teach animation production techniques in a local animation degree program.  I grew up consuming as much Movies, TV, and video games as I could get away with; everything from ‘Street Hawk’ to ‘Thundercats’, ‘The Goonies’ to ‘Road To Perdition’, ‘Duck Hunt’ to ‘Left for Dead’.  I can still occasionally be found watching cartoons and eating giant bowls of cereal while trying to convince my kids to rewatch all 7 seasons of ‘Hill Street Blues’.

Favourite TV theme tune?

Has to be either ‘Jayce and The Wheeled Warriors’ or ‘Magnum PI’.

Work you’re most proud of?

I try to bring energy to every project I’m involved in, but watching former students of mine embark on their careers and fulfil their potential is something I’m very proud to have contributed to.

Favourite joke?

Anybody who’s spent any length of time with me knows that I have a penchant for groan inducing dad jokes. One of my all time favourites is:

How do you organise a party in space? You Planet!

But… you can’t have a party in space.  There’s no atmosphere.

Favourite social channel?


Tip for anyone looking to work in film & tv?

Talent can only ever get you so far. Attitude, attention to detail, consistency and (sometimes) a thick skin are equally, if not more, valuable. Don’t take advice from me though, take some from Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson; “Be the hardest worker in the room”. 

What song should people listen to after reading this?

Colter Wall – The Devil Wears a Suit and Tie


Ed Smith IMDB

Ed Smith LinkedIn

Windmill Lane make Key Appointments


Windmill Lane make Key Appointments

Windmill Lane is Ireland’s leading picture and sound post-production, VFX and content creation studio. Having experienced a buoyant start to 2022 – it has recently announced a number of new senior appointments; VFX Producer Louise Ní Chonchúir, Ed Smith as Head of Operations and Jason Gaffney taking on the role of Marketing Manager. In 2023 Windmill Lane will celebrate 45 years in business and in advance continue to grow headcount, their VFX department, service offerings as well as its focus on the domestic Irish market. Commenting on recent appointments, CEO of Windmill Lane, Dave Quinn, said “As we near 45 years in business – our ambition has not abated even slightly. In fact I believe recent hires represent an intention to grow, diversify and to stay on the forefront of technological advancements – key to our corporate objectives. Through the appointments of Louise, Ed and Jason – we are harvesting over 40 years of knowledge and experience across our key sectors“.


Ed Smith joins the Windmill Lane team after 18 years with Boulder Media where he was Head of Post Production. Speaking today Ed said “I fell in love with all things Post Production while working so closely with the Windmill crew over the last few years. When the opportunity arose to work with such an incredible team on so many challenging and dynamic projects , I knew I had to grab it with both hands.

Jason Gaffney has spent the last 6 years with LinkedIn working as an Account Director having previously worked with, among others, Boys + Girls and IFTN. “Coming from a film and marketing background I have worked across; film, tv, commercials and tech for the last 10 years. Working as Marketing Manager for a business as reputable as Windmill Lane felt like a natural progression as well as a great opportunity“. 


Windmill Lane’s VFX division started out over 10 years ago with Luc Besson’s space prison sci-fi Lockout. In the years that followed Windmill Lane have worked on shows and films for Netflix, Rai, AMC, BBC, HBO and SKY. Head of VFX for Windmill Lane, John Kennedy discusses Windmill Lanes approach to VFX; “Our (Windmill’s) approach to VFX is informed by decades of post production experience and it means we are invested in projects from start to finish. We are at our best when we collaborate closely with producers and directors to solve problems and deliver world class results. Our track record is testament to this. Working with clients globally – we help leverage tax incentives, we offer competitive partnerships but for us the quality of our work is paramount”

Los Angeles 

Between 17th-23rd May Windmill Lane will be on the ground in Los Angeles for IrelandWeek. IrelandWeek aims to continue to showcase where Ireland excels, in the fields of Entertainment, Arts, Culture, Tourism, Tech, Food, Fashion & Business. This b2b showcase will include leaders from Ireland and the USA with a key topic being ‘Ireland at the centre of the VFX revolution’. This year Minister for Arts & Culture Catherine Martin will address the event and will be keen to highlight how Ireland has become a centre of excellence for VFX comparable to any standard globally.

Speaking ahead of the trip Deborah Doherty, Head of Production for Windmill Lane, said “We’re delighted to be on the panel of Ireland Connects next week in Los Angeles supported by Screen Ireland and Enterprise Ireland. It’s a great opportunity to showcase Ireland and Windmill’s talent on a global stage and while the world has become so much smaller in many ways in recent years, it’s fantastic to be able to connect with some of our current clients in person.

WLVFX is hiring!

Windmill Lane VFX is evolving and we’re looking for experienced people to be at the heart of our new team. This is an opportunity for you to be involved in shaping the future of our VFX offering, working on a range of feature films and TV drama, in an environment where your voice will be heard.

We’re hiring for the following roles: VFX Senior Coordinator/Junior Production Manager, Senior Nuke Artist, Pipeline Technical Director, Motion Designer, FX Artist, Animator Lead – Senior Level and CG Artist.

If you are interested or know someone that might be, then we want to hear from you.

You’ll be joining a busy and diverse crew of creative people at our location in the heart of Dublin, which also houses our renowned post-production and audio studios.

We are currently working remotely and ideally would prefer if you are, or could be Dublin based in the future. We love and value a studio environment, although hybrid and remote working solutions will always be considered.

Please note, to be considered, candidates must be eligible to work in the EU.

Find out more about these current opportunities on our Careers page