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Old 01-12-2008, 05:45 PM   #1
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Vancouver Studio Tour & VES Celebration 2008


Our first Vancouver studio tour for the class of 2009 happily coincided with the 3rd annual VES Celebration of Visual Effects, hosted by the Vancouver Chapter of the Visual Effects Society. Not only were we able to visit four prominent visual effects and design studios, we were able to attend a cocktail party with industry insiders and a private screening of behind-the-scenes VFX challenges of feature films The Hulk, Changeling, Journey to the Center of the Earth and Iron Man.

The day began before dawn as we left Courtenay in the dark, in our mini-van, and drove to Nanaimo to catch the morning ferry. The winds were intense as we crossed the Georgia Strait into Vancouver.


First stop on the tour was Image Engine Design & Effects, one of Vancouver's longest-running visual effects shops created by VFX Supervisor Robin Hackl and VFX Producer Christopher Mossman. After an intense year creating effects for The Hulk, Lost Boys 2: The Tribe and Stargate Atlantis, Image Engine was just beginning work on a new feature film; we signed NDAs so details will be released later! (HINT: The project is an interesting one... Some details are already public but I'll let you find out for yourself so we don't violate the NDA's, IMDB Link) Facilities Manager Mike Tate showed us their newly expanded facility and introduced four artists who graciously gave us demonstrations on paint-out, rigging, animating and lighting.


After a sushi and noodles lunch on Broadway at “Opera Sushi” (yes, we watched opera on the TV) we went to see Animation Director Ken Meyer at design and commercial house Global Mechanic. Founded by filmmaker and designer Bruce Alcock, Global Mechanic produces series, short films and commercials using a variety of techniques including 3D, VFX, Flash, stop-motion and traditional art. Ken led us through the facility, then showed us some commercials he's been working on for clients such as Kelloggs, AEP and American Express. The environment was very relaxed, with musical instruments, the garage band area, and funky art throughout the facility.


Just down the street was our next stop, Atmosphere Visual Effects. Founded by Andrew Karr, Jeremy Hoey and Tom Archer, the boutique shop remains a favourite with Stargate Atlantis and Battlestar Galactica, although they've now branched into the feature film area with work on Snow Buddies and the upcoming Thaw. VFX Producer Pauline Burns led us through the studio, stopping to chat with various artists in 3D and compositing, including Emmy Award winner Brenda Campbell. As it was Friday afternoon, the crew were playing Wii skateboarding and gearing down.


Last on our tour was the shop formerly known as Rainmaker: CIS Vancouver. Many years of excellence have kept CIS at the forefront of visual effects, with shops in London, Hollywood and now Vancouver. CG Supervisor Geoffrey Hancock talked us through film and digital intermediate processes and VFX pipeline as we toured the large facility, which also houses Deluxe Film Labs and Post Production. Artists were working on shots from four features, and CIS had recently completed VFX for Clint Eastwood's Changeling and the teen vampire flick Twilight. Geoff showed us a complex breakdown for the opening and closing sequences of Changeling in the screening theatre.


Friday evening found us at The Cambie Pub, connecting and socializing with Lost Boys Learning alumni including Poshin Wang, Alex Lama, Perry Sohn and Andy Chen, and former Lost Boys Studios artists Ken Meyer, Kevin Genzel, Chris Uyede and Trevor Adams. Networking is a huge part of the industry, and if there are some good burgers, good music and beer at the same time, all the better. It's not a coincidence that the best industry gossip has a direct relationship with beer consumption!


On Saturday evening we drove down to Granville Island, an artsy area of Vancouver on False Creek that houses the Public Market, Arts Club Theatre and Emily Carr University of Art & Design. At the Granville Island Hotel, the VES Vancouver Chapter hosted a cocktail reception for those attending the Visual Effects Society Celebration, and annual event that brings together industry luminaries and students alike, to discuss, promote and learn about the visual effects scene in Vancouver.


After some delectable munchies, a drink, and visits with VFX Supervisors Robin Hackl (The Hulk, Blades of Glory), Bob Habros (Blade, Eureka, The L Word) and John Gajdecki (Slither, Fallen, Dr. Doolittle) we went to the Emily Carr University screening theatre, where John Gajdecki hosted an informative presentation complete with 3D glasses and free mouse pads.

Studios presenting shot breakdowns this year were Frantic Films (stereoscopic VFX for Journey to the Center of the Earth), The Embassy (first 3D iron man suit for Iron Man), Image Engine (3D environments and matte painting for The Hulk) and CIS Vancouver (full 3D environments for Changeling). We learned a lot about the pre-production planning and technical R&D that goes into each sequence.

For more behind the scenes photos visit our gallery. Watch for further project posts of our Ghost and Product Shot project coming in the next few weeks.



Lost Boys Learning is North America's only dedicated accredited visual effects school with world-class training in photo-realistic 3D for VFX and compositing for film and television. Boasting a 94% placement rate Lost Boys Learning offers a specialized 1 year Visual Effects Diploma on Vancouver Island, Canada. Our students work with the award winning VFX Supervisor and experienced mentor, Mark Benard, in a project-based learning environment, covering VFX pre-production and shooting, 3D for VFX and compositing. We are now accepting applications for our new intake starting in January or May of 2009. Please visit our website and/or email us for further information.
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Mark Bénard | Owner/VFX Director
Lost Boys Studios | School of Visual Effects

"Divine Creators in the Making"

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