Optic Nerve Studios

Location: Sun Valley, CA

Founded: 1993

Website: http://opticnervefx.com/

Optic Nerve Studios is a special effects company founded by John Vulich and Everett Burrell and is now owned by special effects makeup artist Glenn Hetrick, judge on the debut season of the Syfy competition show Face Off.

Notable Products

  • Special effects makeup
  • Animatronics
  • Puppets
  • Armor
  • Specialty props

What to Expect

After six years of employment with Optic Nerve, Glenn Hetrick bought the shop from the previous owners and has continued the company’s tradition of executing stunning special effects makeup for feature films and television. In addition, the studio also produces animatronics and manual operation puppets, as well as armor costume pieces and specialty props and prosthetics. On staff are fewer than 50 artists, specializing in makeup, sculpting, painting, design, and fabrication. Optic Nerve also employs puppeteers as members of the Screen Actors Guild. The company is a union shop, meaning that artists are covered under a collective bargaining agreement with IATSE, the union that represents trades within the film, television, and live production industries. When the need arises, additional temporary staff is hired to serve as on set technicians for production.

Those seeking employment should contact the studio directly and must supply a résumé, cover letter, and a portfolio that displays examples of your work and mastery of technique. Hetrick was first hired by Optic Nerve to do minor fabrication, sweep floors, and assist senior artists. His willingness to learn and work long hours for meager pay eventually won him the opportunity to move up the ranks and prove his skill. The same is true for entry-level applicants; do not expect to be hired on the spot and immediately take the lead on a major motion picture. You have to pay your dues. Hetrick is well known for achieving excellence by pushing his team very hard and demanding the very best. He has often admitted he is hypercritical and brutally honest in regards to the work his staff produces but also extremely proud when the finished product is well received by the director and audience.

Optic Nerve Studios has won three Emmy Awards for work on Babylon 5, The X-Files, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, as well as numerous other nominations. Additional credits include Legion, Necronomicon, Heroes, CSI: NY, and Night of the Living Dead.


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