You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Vfx talent behind boom

Scout & About: Canada 2012

Visual effects, it seems, are in Montreal’s DNA.

A couple of the most innovative and influential vfx software outfits of all time — Softimage and Discreet Logic — were homegrown ventures. Their legacy continues today with such providers as Rodeo FX, Moment Factory and Hybride Technologies.

In fact, so robust is the effects biz in Quebec’s largest city that it’s pulling back many artists who had once left for other centers, says Rodeo FX prexy Sebastien Moreau, who himself spent years working at Industrial Light and Magic in San Francisco before returning home to set up his own shop six years ago.

His chief technology officer Jordan Soles caught the Montreal effects fever too — leaving Sony Pictures Imageworks to join Rodeo a couple of years ago.

The Quebec tax credit for visual-effects work done in the province is a big factor in this boom, but so is the quality of the work being done in the city, Moreau says. “They get good value for the money they spend.”

Popular on Variety

Rodeo worked for all the major Hollywood studios, including the “Twilight” franchise, “Mirror Mirror” and “The Amazing Spider-Man.”

Multimedia company Moment Factory raised its profile earlier this year when it provide the eye-popping visuals for Madonna’s Super Bowl halftime show. It had already made its mark through its work for Celine Dion, Jay-Z and the stunt at the Coachella music festival during which it launched 1,500 illuminated beach balls into the crowd.

Moment Factory co-founder Sakchin Bessette says Montreal’s high-tech prowess is due to synergies among the city’s theater and performance scene, its robust vidgame business, and its tradition of vfx software development.

All this “makes people think, ‘Yeah we can do it!’ It makes the impossible seem possible,” Bessette says. “Like the Cirque du Soleil. If they can pull it off, why can’t we?”

Located several miles north of Montreal, Hybride celebrated its 20th anniversary last year. The studio was bought four years ago by French games giant Ubisoft, which has a major presence in Montreal.

Hybride has worked with all the main Hollywood players over the past two decades. The company collaborated with Robert Rodriguez on several pics; James Cameron came calling to complete work on “Avatar”; and “Hunger Games” lists the company in its credits.

Hollywood is not coming to Quebec just for the tax-credit savings, according to Hybride prexy Pierre Raymond, echoing many of his colleagues.

“They’re coming for the production values,” he says. “If they can get more shots without jeopardizing the quality, then they’ll call.”

Marc Bourbonnais, head of vfx shingle Modus FX, stresses that town’s shops are not dependent on Hollywood films shooting in Montreal; they’re looking to provide effects for films shot anywhere.

“Montreal has depth,” adds Emilie Dussault, head of business development at Mokko Studio, which recently worked on the “Chronicles of Riddick” sequel, set for a 2013 release, and built its rep with Discovery docu “Last Day of the Dinosaurs.”

“I don’t think people realize yet the potential that Montreal can offer.”

Related Links:
Canucks give U.S. a break

More Scene

  • Oscar Menu to Be Almost All

    Oscar Menu to Be Almost All Plant-Based

    The Oscars are getting greener. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced on Monday that it will be offering entirely plant-based menus at today’s Oscar Nominees Luncheon and then in the Dolby Theatre lobbies prior to the 92nd Academy Awards on Feb. 9. The post-ceremony Governors Ball will be 70% plant-based, and 30% [...]

  • 'Little America' Team on Creating Immigration

    'Little America' Team on Creating the Immigration Anthology Series for Apple TV Plus

    Respect and authenticity were the key words at the screening of the new Apple TV Plus series “Little America” on Thursday in Los Angeles. Produced by Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon and inspired by true stories featured in Epic Magazine, “Little America” is an anthology series focused on immigration. For executive producer Sian Heder, [...]

  • 2018 Sundance Film Festival - Egyptian

    Sundance 2020: The Ultimate Party Guide

    Heading to Park City? From intimate dinners and cocktail parties to late night bashes (that end just in time to head to brunch), there’s plenty to keep this year’s film festival attendees out of the cold between screenings. Here is Variety’s ultimate party guide for Sundance 2020:  Thursday, Jan. 23 “Summertime” Premiere Party Lyft Lounge, 8-11 [...]


    Jenna Andrews Hosts Zhavia Ward, Lennon Stella at Jed Foundation Fundraiser

    Jenna Andrews, the Canadian singer-songwriter, record producer and executive, hosted a pre-Grammy event in partnership with The Jed Foundation at Alice and Olivia in West Hollywood on Tuesday.  The non-profit Jed is dedicated to protecting emotional health and preventing suicide. The foundation has partnered with high schools and colleges in order to “strengthen mental health, [...]

  • Coldplay - Chris Martin

    Grammys 2020: The Ultimate Party Guide

    Let the music play, indeed. The Grammys are just days away and dozens of parties are happening every night this week leading up to the big day, Sunday, Jan. 26. And the partying continues with several bashes following the ceremony. (All events listed are by invitation only unless marked otherwise; this list is being updated [...]

  • Jared Harris arrives at the 26th

    No, Jared Harris is Not Playing Doctor Octopus in Marvel's 'Morbius'

    The first-ever trailer for Marvel and Sony’s next Spider-man spinoff “Morbius” left comic book fans reeling with theories. While the plight of the main character, Dr. Michael Morbius (Jared Leto) – a scientist dying of a rare blood disease who accidentally turns himself into a vampire – seemed ripped right out of the comics, the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content