A new VFX blog to check out

Posted on June 30th, 2007 in CG Community, Working in CG by Marc Bourbonnais

Enough about start-ups and enterprising, We should talk about VFX once in a while, no?

Fresh out this month, a new VFX blog “VFXhack” is well worth a visit. It is authored by Andrew Orloff, VFX Supervisor at Zoic Studios in Los Angeles. The site just started a few weeks ago, and already it is a great read. Here’s an excerpt of the first post, “Welcome to VFXhack”:

What I want to do is an in the trenches, real-life, counter-culture VFX blog. Stuff that’s cool that you might not know about cuz it’s not from the majors. Along with “real” tips from the folks on the ground like you and me.

Time to bookmark.



A few books

Posted on June 28th, 2007 in Entrepreneurship, Working in CG, Blogging by Marc Bourbonnais

I always have book to read. When I finish one, I have a couple just waiting to be started. I do not have a particular schedule, but I try to read a few chapters every other day. Here are some of the books I’ve enjoyed. You’ll notice that some of these are classics written a long time ago, way before the CG/VFX business even existed. It proves the value of their ideas.

Entrepreneurship

 

Art of the StartGuy Kawasaki : The Art of The Start
A very inspirational book about… starting up. Fun to read and to the point, Guy tells you the basic steps in starting a business, or any project for that matter. This book will give you that extra little push you need to get goin’.

People / Negotiation

Love is the killer appTim Sanders : Love is the Killer App
Great thoughts about the positive aspects of being an all-around nice guy that likes to connect with others. It’s a good depiction of this new era of forums, mailing-lists, social bookmarking and other forms of information sharing.

 

How to Win Friends & Influence PeopleDale Carnegie : How to Win Friends & Influence People
A classic from the 1930’s about general people skills. Forget the modern easy success stories, this is the real deal.

Blogging

 

The Corporate Blogging BookDebbie Weil : The Corporate Blogging Book
A book I read before going into blogging for the first time. The first few weeks of a blog, especially with a corporate flavor, is a crucial step. This book can help you steer clear of newbie mistakes.

Project Management

The Mythical Man-MonthFrederick P. Brooks : The Mythical Man-Month
There are a lot of modern project management books available, many of them dealing with software engineering which can be loosely applied to the CG/VFX industry. This book, originally published in 1975, is the grand-daddy of them all.

PeoplewareTom DeMarco, Timothy Lister : Peopleware
Another classic written in the 1980s when computer programming was starting to be a huge industry. It primarily deals with software management, but you can find great insights on general staff management as well.

 

Making it HappenMackenzie Kyle : Making it Happen
The only book I know that explains project management in precise details through a fictional story. It’s a bit corny like a bad Hollywood script, but it works.

Inspiration

AmazonBrenda Ueland : If You Want to Write
This book was published in 1938 and is about the process of writing. This book is so full of insights on creativity and inspiration that it can relate to any creative thinking.



Vision

Posted on June 27th, 2007 in CG Community, The Company, Working in CG by Marc Bourbonnais

In the past few weeks I’ve had a lot of positive comments on this blog, by e-mail and in person about this soon-to-be company. The nicest thing people have been saying to me is that they truly believe I am a solid VFX professional turned visionary entrepreneur. I’m flattered because it’s definitely what I want to offer to the CG community in Montreal: an innovative, grounded, professional and long-lasting workplace.

I’m not saying it doesn’t already exist in the neighborhood. There are some great post houses with a lot of history in the Montreal region. But there is definitely room for a new film FX house managed by professionals in the field. Production companies with medium to big projects constantly have to work hard to find enough post houses qualified for film. VFX supervisors would be more than happy to come in with projects of over 1, 000 shots. Currently the region just cannot handle such a massive workload for the short duration of a single production.

What will have to happen with this company:

  • The studio will have a huge amount of floor space. Clients like to know you’re not already crammed up in a broom closet;
  • Company managers with over 10 years experience in film VFX? Clients like that too;
  • Management by FX professionals for FX professionals
  • Keeping close tabs with this new wave of entrepreneurs in the Montreal VFX community;
  • As a new Visual Effects Society member, (thanks to Jacques Lévesque and Yanick Wilisky for the endorsement) I’ll work hard to bring a VES chapter to Montreal;
  • Long-term philosophy. More space for a shooting stage. In-house theatre for private screenings. Associations with CG schools with internship. R&D.
  • Decent technical and pipeline support for VFX artists, which has been a big part of my job for the past few years.
  • Added: Exposure, visibility, getting the word out. I’ve been involved in a few conferences in the past years, and I know the huge impact a little word of mouth can have. This blog is a good example.

It’s just a quick list, but it’s a good sample of what the company philosophy will be about.



Short vacation

Posted on June 26th, 2007 in Entrepreneurship by Marc Bourbonnais

I just got back from a short family vacation; probably the last one for a while…

Thanks to a friend who was with us, I read Seth Godin’s latest book, The Dip. This short book (about 80 pages) is about strategic quitting, or when it’s quite all right to quit. I just quit my 10 year old job, so I can relate. Feeling like you’ve hit the ceiling can happen at any time during your career, and it’s not a bad thing to try a few drastic changes, like quitting. A nice little book.



The funny thing about investors

Posted on June 22nd, 2007 in Entrepreneurship, The Company by Marc Bourbonnais

There’s this catch-22 about funding a start-up. Banks, the government, venture capitalists or regular folks with a bit of money who are interested in your project have something in common. They will want to make sure you’re doing everything in your power to secure financing by whatever means necessary and with as many partners as possible to spread the risk. But then, most of these investors will wait for a near-final decision of all the others before they make a commitment. Since everyone is aware of all the amounts of money involved, it’s like playing poker with the cards facing up. And you’re the dealer.

 So, one by one, you secure deals right down to the last possible option. It’s a tedious but necessary process. During this stage, it’s important to be patient and stay focused. I have received praise numerous times for the clear and prudent process of this effort. At least something is on the right track.



Send in the architects

Posted on June 21st, 2007 in Entrepreneurship, The Company by Marc Bourbonnais

So now architects are in the loop as well, since there is quite a bit of work to do in the studio space being considered. The future workplace (the one planned, anyway) is quite huge, so we can have a lot of growth potential. This is always a good thing with clients for big projects. More details (and hopefully pictures!) soon… 

Again professional services do not come cheap. Actually, it’s the same in our business, so I can’t complain. The good news is that when you are at the stage of checking out the floor space with architects it means a lot of ground has been covered and many start-up questions are resolved. Hopefully the last details can be sorted out in the next couple of weeks, and then the company will be more than a piece of paper, which I don’t even have yet.



VFX business in Montreal and Canada

Posted on June 20th, 2007 in CG Community by Marc Bourbonnais

VFX World just posted a great article by Janet Hetherington (Rise of Canadian VFX) on the current boom in Canada’s VFX industry. Montreal is well represented by colleagues from Hybride and Buzz. Reading this article makes me breath a little easier… Here is an excerpt:

The Canadian vfx scene is on the rise. Companies have been earning their street creds — and the studios are hiring them to benefit from the tax creds. The combination of talent, high quality work and tasty rebate incentives make using Canadian vfx firms very appealing.



First Contract

Posted on June 19th, 2007 in Working in CG by Marc Bourbonnais

I just got my first contract work since I quit my job. It’s a small gig for a movie that will be shooting in Montreal this summer: on-set supervision for a couple of tricky shots. My company does not exist yet, so I’m taking it as my first freelancing job, which is still very exciting.

This work came in through a producer I’ve recently met while I was getting this start-up off the ground. At the time our meeting had nothing to do with job offers. So yes, just being a nice guy with an clear vision for a VFX start-up can get you work.



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