Visual effects experts gather in Montreal for ‘talent showcasing’ conference

Visual effects experts gathered at the Montreal Science Center last week, coming together under one roof to discuss their craft.

It’s a field that accounts for 6,000 Quebec jobs — but like many industries, it’s dealing with a post-pandemic drought as it competes with London and Los Angeles.

“It was key to us, as a big player worldwide, to make sure we can showcase the great talent and innovation that the VFX community has,” said Christine Maestracci, CEO of the Quebec Film and Television Council (QFTC), which hosted the conference.

The event saw the likes of Brian Connor, the Oscar-winning effects artist for Dune, as well as representatives from effects company Rodeo FX, founded in Montreal.

“You always have great talent working [in Quebec] that have transformed the industry,” said Connor.


Jordan Soles, Rodeo FX’s vice-president of technology and animation, said the company is constantly looking for those with “creative flair.”

Creativity that comes in handy when trying to, say, recreate a casino city in China… at a time when shooting in China isn’t allowed.

“Shang Chi was great. We did a hugely choreographed sequence on top of a scaffolding that was meant to be shot in Macau. But then COVID hit, and we managed to recreate a fully digital version of that city,” Soles said.

Nowadays, most special effects are digital. But some artists, like Rodeo Fx’s Olivier Barbes-Morin, make use of old-fashioned techniques.

For instance, to make poison bubbling wine for the Fantastic Beasts, Barbes-Morin simply poured nail polish remover onto a piece of styrofoam.

It’s an old-school approach to the studio blends with digital wizardry.

“If someone was at his computer trying to make a random bubble generator, it would work, it would like something,” said Barbes-Morin. “But would it look like the real thing? Your guess is as good as mine.”

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