'The Flash': VFX Chief on "Big" Finale and Pressure to Get Grodd Right

Armen Kevorkian and his team tackled their biggest challenge yet by bringing the villainous gorilla to life.
The CW

Even the fastest man alive needs a boost from his friends.

The Flash has earned praise as one of the most visually ambitious comic book shows on television, thanks in large part to visual effects supervisor Armen Kevorkian and his team.

In Wednesday's episode, Kevorkian's team faced its biggest challenge yet when Barry (Grant Gustin) finally faced off against Grodd, a psychic gorilla whose appearance fans had been anticipating for months. In a world in which Andy Serkis and Fox's Planet of the Apes franchise has set the bar high for such effects, the stakes were even higher.

In a chat with The Hollywood Reporter, Kevorkian talks the pressure to live up to comic book fans' expectations and what to expect from season one's final two episodes.

What were the challenges of bringing Grodd to life?

I knew we could pull off something that would be pleasing, but it had to be pleasing to the masses for you to know you did your job right. Until last night, it was still that nervous feeling of, "I hope everyone is going to be happy with this character" that is pretty well known in the DC Universe. 

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Did the great effects in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes weigh on you at all?

Absolutely. Audiences come from these $200 million movies. They know it's television, but still there's what they are used to visually that you have to kind of live up to, even though you don't have the same amount of time. We try to structure what we do by prepping early. Our producers — Greg [Berlanti] , Andrew [Kreisberg] and Geoff Johns — are great about giving us a heads up on certain things where I have a little bit more time to think about it, develop it. It is very challenging coming from last year's Planet of the Apes, which looked amazing, to recreate a character people were waiting for all season long.

What do we have to look forward to with Robbie Amell's Firestorm returning next week?

What was fun about creating him, and also challenging at the same time, is obviously you look at the comic book references because you want to stay in the same flavor of what has been established. But you have to create it for a moving picture, and having a guy whose head is on fire and hands are on fire, you're at the borderline of "this could look cheesy." There have been other characters in movies where people have been on fire — The Human Torch and things like that — so there are those challenges of what they've established in movies that you kind of want to steer away from because your character is different, but you kind of want to stay on the par of the quality that has been established. Itt  was challenging to make sure we did him justice, because he was a favorite character of the fans and you didn't want to screw it up.

Do you work on things like Grodd really far in advance?

After we completed the pilot, Greg, Andrew and Geoff Johns gave me a heads up that they wanted to introduce Grodd this season. It allowed me on the side with my guys to think about how we would do this character. It does give you a little more time, even the thinking part of how we would organize things to get to where we want to when the time came. We just started building him a little bit in advance. But you are involved with episodes that actually air, so there's only so much time you have to spend on side projects.

Visual effects is notoriously a 24/7 job. Do you and your team manage to have outside lives?

It's hard to. When you sign up for it, you know it's going to take up a lot of your time. As long as you are OK with it, then it's a choice you've made and you just go with it.

Are you already thinking about season two?

We'll get a little bit of a break. There have been things thrown around that we are possibly going to be doing, which is always good to have in the back of your mind so you can start thinking about it. We'll definitely get a break after we've delivered the last two, which are pretty big and pretty cool episodes. Firestorm is coming back in next week's episode to help out with things, and he looks great.

The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on The CW.