Profile of the month at the NAD Center

Posted on January 14th, 2010 in Entrepreneurship, CG Community, Blogging by Marc Bourbonnais

Every month the NAD Center interviews on their blog one of their former students to get some insights of their careers and views about the digital effects and games industry. They have been kind enough to have me as their profile of the month. I hope some of my advice can be good for the students; you can never have enough pointers on VFX careering.
You can have a peek at my short interview here.



China Business Development

Posted on January 6th, 2010 in Entrepreneurship, The Company by Marc Bourbonnais

Not too long ago I was personally invited to visit some industry development in China. Modus is currently working on digital effects of a very ambitious project for the 2010 Shanghai World Expo, so we have new contacts with the Orient to explore. I have been to Asia before, but this was a first trip to China, very exciting. Considering the work to be done at Modus, I opted for a very short trip of only three days (!) so I would not have to suffer too much from jet lag on my return; the sheer adrenaline rush of spending a few days in China is enough to keep me awake on the other side of the world for a few days.

My trip was in part as an official guest of the 2nd China International Cartoon Creative Industry Fair (CICCIF), taking part in Wuhu, near Nanjing. (Yes, coolest city name). Not too sure what to expect, on a very not and sunny  morning I was politely ushered to an exterior stage, where about a hundred delegates and myself were greeted by a crowd of thousands!

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I’m on the stage, in a dark suit under the blistering sun for an hour..

 

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My view from the stage. The Chinese sure know how to open a conference!

The conference was interesting, even though not specifically geared towards digital effects. However, a large number of production houses were on location, and this is what business development is all about. Even without a clear agenda, you can mingle with a totally new territory of business opportunities. China Central Television for example, with over 20 channels, has a billion viewers as a daily audience…

As for the rest of my time, food is always the place for official talks, so business and formal government dinners were the norm. I raised few eyebrows as a Caucasian who can use chopsticks… Gan bei!

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 One of many elaborate dinners. By the way, that’s not orange juice, but corn juice.

 

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With business and government representatives. Don’t know if you can find me, I’m the one with dark hair.



Happy Birthday Modus !

Posted on August 8th, 2008 in Hardware, Entrepreneurship, The Company by Marc Bourbonnais

Last week was our first anniversary! Modus was born on paper July 27th, 2007. On August 1st, we were signing the lease for the huge space that became our new studios.

Where we are after our first steps:

  • Our indoor setup is not totally complete, we have to work with our production schedules. Keeping track of our electrical needs is a challenge, with hardware getting in at a fast pace. Extension cords are a start-up company’s best friends.
  • There are 30 of us now working full time. Our original goal was to have 25 people up and running during the first year, so we’re on track.
  • With a few smaller projects, we are working on three features that are spread over 8 months.  Getting these bigger projects on board took a bit longer than expected, but we got up to speed very quickly.
  • Our start-up financing is finally all spent. It was quite hard to make all our investment funds working together, with our financial partners having very different calendars and methods. We are now in our 2nd wave of financing to continue our growth.

With a year in business behind us, 30 employees and a good amount of production in our studios, we’re definitely not a start-up anymore. Modus is now a real (albeit young) business. Thanks everyone for your support and encouragements!

Next post will be from Siggraph 2008 in Los Angeles!



Dave Rand at fxguide.com

Posted on July 29th, 2008 in Entrepreneurship, CG Community, Working in CG by Marc Bourbonnais

If you don’t know who Dave Rand is, then you’re not up to date with the VFX community in Montreal. Dave is a VFX supervisor that has been turning a lot of heads recently as a self-made spokesperson for the 100 former artists of Meteor studios. His crusade about paychecks for the last weeks of work at the company before its bankruptcy has appeared in newspapers and magazines such as La presse, Variety, Playback and The Hollywood Reporter to name a few. His post on CGsociety has generated a huge amount of traffic and the thread is still going strong.

He is the guest in the first of a 3-part podcast over at fxguide.com about the state of labour in the digital effects industry. As usual, Fxguide has produced a fine segment and Dave’s view on our business is very insightful.

I agree with him that our industry is in its infancy, and that we are at a turning point where business models have to be rethinked to become more refined, structured and profitable. I’m far from being a business mogul, but I hope that as an experienced professional turned new company owner I can contribute to the progress of our field of work. I wish him well on his campaign.



Ubisoft Campus

Posted on July 28th, 2008 in Entrepreneurship, CG Community by Marc Bourbonnais

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Ubisoft Campus on Notre-Dame street in Montreal.

Last Friday I had the privilege to speak at Campus Ubisoft in front of over 100 students in video game development and 3D animation. My conference was part of their course “ exploration of the industry “ where professionals from the video games and digital effects world come by for a chat about their careers, their goals and of course the state of the industry.

For my own presentation I talked about my steps in VFX, our setup of Modus FX and some key points about getting a job in the industry. The setting was very simple and informal and lucky for me the students were very engaged (for two hours!) and kept asking relevant questions; I like a dynamic crowd.

I enjoyed very much my first visit to the Campus. Many thanks to Ubisoft for inviting me.

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 Part of the crowd as they were settling in. Yes, that’s a very fine looking Vectrex console sitting up in front. At least they know their gaming history…



Changing agendas

Posted on April 16th, 2008 in Entrepreneurship, Blogging by Marc Bourbonnais

One thing I’m learning these days is to re-arrange my schedule; blog writing is one of the many things I’m desperately trying to find time for.

My associates and I were told two things by our management advisor about starting up a business

  • Every few months, our responsibilities and typical workday will completely change;
  • The pace of our business day will constantly go faster.

And he was right. Our first few months were all about arranging our studio: ripping old carpets, painting walls and getting a few chairs. Then, setting up accounting practices and business development strategies. Followed by buying our first pieces of hardware. Now we are balancing production calendars, staff hours and long-term budget predictions. Hey, at least it means we are in business.

Trying to set up a decent weekly schedule is hard, since our priorities are constantly evolving. My point is, yes, it’s been two weeks without a blog post and I’ll try to get back on track.



Business Development

Posted on March 31st, 2008 in Entrepreneurship, The Company by Marc Bourbonnais

Okay, so we have computers, contracts and staff, so we just work on our projects and cash in, right? Not quite. An important part of running a business is making sure you keep it running. So even though we have a filled calendar with money coming in for the next few months, what happens after that? That’s when you need business development.

Business development is anything and everything related to market opportunities, sales activity and business model design. Sounds very boring and not very VFX-ish, but it really means simple things like keeping up to speed with what is going on in our industry and look up what film productions are moving forward.

All this is part of our management coaching, where we are monitored by our consultant on a weekly basis. As soon as we started getting sound contracts, we knew that it would be crucial to have external support for business training. Making sure your bank account is in good shape and you have potential sales lining up in the not-so-distant future is important for any well established company, even more so with a start-up like ourselves since cashflow is at a minimum. It sounds obvious, but in the midst of running a business, it takes a lot of determination to step back and look at the big management picture.



2008: A Great Start

Posted on January 18th, 2008 in Entrepreneurship, The Company by Marc Bourbonnais

Sorry for the lack of posts, but the new year sure started off with a bang. We’re going through quite a few bids, which is taking a lot of our time. Yes, in fact it’s good news. I should be traveling for a shooting very soon, which should give time to put this blog back on track.

As for our start-up process, balancing finances, construction, hardware and client relations is tricky, but still doable with the correct attitude. We have started getting some management counseling, I’ll write about it soon.



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