Oleg Smykalov Creates Stunning Sci-Fi Visual Effects for Amazon’s ‘The Expanse’

Oleg - Expanse
Oleg - Expanse

Oleg Smykalov first got into the film industry through video editing. He knew he loved making movies, but quickly found himself getting bored editing. He needed something else to reignite his interest, so he began playing around with animation and motion graphics software. Still, he found himself wanting more, and began exploring the world of visual effects. Quickly, he saw the immense challenge it took to make something created by computer software fit seamlessly into real footage, and he knew that is what he wanted to be doing.

Smykalov has since worked on many award-winning projects throughout his esteemed career, such as Amazon’s hit series The Boys, Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy and Lucifer, FOX’s Gotham, which took home the Emmy in Visual Effects while Smykalov was on the team, and many others. He is known for his adaptability and capability of delivering the highest quality work under tight deadlines and has no plans on slowing down.

One of Smykalov’s longest running projects was Amazon’s multi award-winning series The Expanse. The show takes place two hundred years in the future, where the solar system’s been colonized, and police detective Josephus Miller has been given the assignment of finding a missing woman. Meanwhile, an officer of an ice freighter sees what appears to be an unprovoked attack upon the ship by a craft from Mars. As news of the attack spreads, the incident’s repercussions threaten to destabilize an already tenuous relationship between Earth, Mars and the asteroid belt.

The Expanse is the best episodic Sci-Fi drama out there. It’s as good as Game of Thrones but takes place in space, with an excellent cast and an engaging plot. I like the story of the Earth, Mars, and The Belt clashing together on multiple occasions using futuristic spaceships, alien technology, and space travel. I generally like to work on sci-fi and futuristic stories, and the space network, space station, and many militaries and cargo ships that we created using CGI make the story stand out from everything out there,” he said.

Smykalov worked on The Expanse as a Senior Compositor for the final 3 seasons, utilizing his skills on nearly 150 full CG and live-action shots during that time. Most of his shots would be from 200 to 1500 frames long, which is a very long duration for a full CG shot, and his main task was live-action compositing and full CG shots. Additionally, he helped on the series with clean-up and shot stabilization.   

“I have had the pleasure of working with Oleg at Rocket Science VFX on multiple seasons of Amazon Prime’s The Expanse. Oleg is a hard-working Compositing Artist who brings his strong creative and technical eye to each project he works on. He is a great team member, always doing his best and assisting in bringing the best out of his peers. I have personally hired Oleg multiple times and would happily do so again,” said Chris Nokes, VFX Supervisor at DNEG Toronto.

The Expanse was an extremely well-reviewed show throughout its six-season run. It won 6 awards and received 28 nominations, and has been recognized for its stunning visual effects. The Expanse team even recognized Smykalov and his team’s great impact on the show and sent them a huge kudos by including their names in Season 5 Episode 9

The Expanse has always been a successful show, with many communities online, most notably Reddit and Twitter. Fans like to develop conspiracy theories about the series and what the story could evolve into. I am proud to have been a part of it,” said Smykalov.

If you haven’t yet, check out The Expanse on Amazon Prime Video.