Set in the year 2030, Finch follows titular engineer and inventor Finch Weinberg, one of the few survivors of an apocalyptic solar flare which turned most of the Earth into an uninhabitable desert blasted by deadly UV radiation. Dying from radiation exposure and forced to abandon his laboratory, Finch sets out on a cross-country journey with his dog, Goodyear, and Jeff - the loveable android he created to care for his canine pal.

Of the 877 VFX shots which were created for the film, more than 60% were of this hero CG character Jeff, and the character provides much of the heart and humor in the movie.

As Jeff embarks on his journey he starts to learn from Finch, evolving and becoming almost human-looking in his movements. His AI is underdeveloped when he is first switched on, and it improves throughout the movie as he takes in information from the world around him. This concept led to a fascinating performance challenge for our animation team.

Miguel Sapochnik
Apple TV+
MPC VFX Supervisor
Anthony Smith
MPC VFX Supervisor
Aymeric Perceval


The brief from the filmmakers was to make sure we always had awareness of what stage we were at in any given scene or shot along Jeff’s development arc. The robot would be constantly recording Finch’s motions and behaviours and abstracting his own from them – from very robotic, uncoordinated, and ungainly at the beginning; through to being significantly more controlled, and finally ending up with very human-like nuances to his movement, such as subtle eye saccades during pauses for thought to mimicking Finch’s breathing motions as his behaviour takes a final turn to becoming very human. All the while, matching the incredible performance of Caleb Landry Jones (the actor who played Jeff), and refining it with an appropriate level of robotic feel, always making sure Jeff feels like a 200kg robot rather than a 70kg human.

Inspired by machine learning work and SIGGRAPH research, the MPC team collaborated with the filmmakers to make an animation plan for the progression of Jeff’s AI. The result was a 20+ page animation bible which defined what they wanted from the character’s evolution in each part of the movie and how much of Finch’s body language it had assimilated by then.

For their work on Jeff, the MPC team received the VES Award for Outstanding Animated Character.

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