Modus FX creates digital worlds for Mr. Nobody, winner of the Osella for Best Technical Contribution at the 66th Mostra in Venice

Posted on September 13th, 2009 in Software, The Company, Working in CG, Movies by Marc Bourbonnais


Sylvie Olivé, Production Designer on Mr. Nobody receiving the Golden Osella for Best Technical Contribution

Today, Modus FX announces having delivered 121 digital visual effects shots for the feature film Mr. Nobody, recipient of the Golden Osella for Best Technical Contribution at the 66th Venice International Film Festival. The film was produced by Pan-Europeenne, co-produced by Integral Film, Lago Film, Christal Films Productions and Toto & Co. Films, directed by Jaco Van Dormael, with visual effects supervision by Louis Morin. The film is also an Official Selection at this year’s Toronto Film Festival.

Despite recent slow-downs in the film industry, Quebec’s expertise in digital-effects production holds strong. All 500 visual effects shots for this sci-fi fantasy movie were produced in Quebec by Quebec companies. Modus FX was entrusted with complex sequences which could not be captured on film, involving the digital reproduction of entire cities, villages and other-worldly settings. Modus also worked on several complex transitions between the different worlds and multiple lives of Nemo Nobody.

Modus’ post-production contributions involved 37 digital artists and technicians across a six-month period. A long list of software, including Autodesk’s Softimage and Maya, Side Effects’ Houdini and The Foundry’s Nuke, and the creation of a multitude of innovative in-house tools, programs and techniques was required for the 121 shots delivered.

Co-founded by VFX industry veterans Yanick Wilisky and Marc Bourbonnais, Modus FX offers a full range of digital production services for film, television and new media. Boasting a 12,000 square-foot studio to house its team of seasoned artists, Modus FX has quickly become an industry leader, working on high-profile projects for clients and distributors such as Sony Pictures, TF1, Discovery Channel, Warner Bros. Interactive, BBC-1, and The History Channel.

Montreal Houdini User Group

Posted on September 17th, 2008 in Software, CG Community by Marc Bourbonnais


The Montreal Houdini User Group will have a showing tomorrow, Thursday September 18. It will be hosted by François Duchesneau, Houdini artist and technical animator at Modus. He will be doing a presentation on shattering and controlling objects with Houdini. Similar to “BlastCode” and comparable solutions, he will be using a texture to break up objects and then driving pieces with particle setups instead of straight simulations. The meeting will take place at Oxy-Jeunes at 2020 rue De la visitation in Montreal.
François has been driving the MHUG for a year now; you can check out his website for Houdini tutorials, demo files and of course news from the User Group.

Siggraph 2008 : Day 1

Posted on August 12th, 2008 in Software, CG Community, Technical by Marc Bourbonnais


So I’m in California for my 11th Siggraph, 4th in Los Angeles. The first thing that struck me is that housing is booming in downtown LA. What used to be a dead zone around the Convention Center is now covered with condo towers.

Got all my registration worked out at 7:30 this morning, as always the crowds at Siggraph are extremely well-behaved and the hundreds of non-registered attendees waiting patiently at the doors walked in without so much a fuss.

I attended the new Computer Animation Festival presentations in the morning, a nice addition to the regular classes. I miss the now defunct Electronic Theatre but these new sessions look great. The program on stereoscopy is particularly interesting. Two sessions this morning:

3D primer : The fundamentals of Stereoscopy
The most comprehensive 3-D tutorial I’ve seen. Very informative, both historically and technically. I particular enjoyed Peter Anderson explaining 3-D cinema with chopsticks. Interesting to see a battle forming between Real-D and Dolby 3D

Great Failed Ideas in Production
As suggested during the session, this panel has to come back. Hearing CG masters like Dyksrta and Knoll talk about tough calls in their careers is, to say the least, comforting.

The rest of the day was a bit rushed, where I jumped around in 3 vendor sessions:

Nuke user group
Their first user group; I could not stay long but did get to see some interesting workflow for The Mummy 3 and Ocula, Foundry’s new tools for stereoscopy.

Softimage Education Summit and Research Summit
I gave a very short talk for the education partners of Softimage about what students need to know to get into VFX studios. Short answer: be pleasant to work with, period. I met new traning centers that will stay in touch. I stayed around for the start of the research summit to meet with old friends that I can only meet at Siggraph.

Autodesk User Group
A very big event, happening at the Shrine Auditorium. The show itself was quite long (just over 3 hours) but most of the presentations were good, notably the Mudbox 2009 preview and the stereoscopy recap. Still, 3 hours is a heck of a long time for marketing chit-chat.


And that’s more than enough for one day. See you all tomorrow, with the start of the exhibition.

Back from Boston

Posted on October 8th, 2007 in Software, CG Community by Marc Bourbonnais

I’m back from the Boston edition of the Avid “Make Your Mark Tour”, where I was a member of the panel on how to break into the digital media business. My fellow panelists were professionals from the world of music production, video editing and independent films. It was quite exciting to meet experts from industries I’m not familiar with.

A lot of the talk was centered on music and film production, but even with our very diverse backgrounds, our panel agreed that contacts and networking are crucial to get a good career going, as well as simply being a good person to work with. “Just don’t be a jerk” concluded Matt Dentler from the SxSW festival.

Todd Akita was hosting a session on the creative process at Psyop using Softimage XSI. It was great to see him outside the hectic pace of Siggraph! We spent the two days in Boston with our good friends from Softimage.

… and I love eating out with people who can enjoy sushi as much as I do, so that way we can go for a good ol’ boat of fish.



Make Your Mark tour

Posted on September 15th, 2007 in Software, CG Community, Working in CG by Marc Bourbonnais


I’ll be taking part in the Make your Mark tour from Avid, at the Boston event on October 3rd. The whole tour is a series of free events with panels and presentations on CGI, video & film production and sound mixing. On the 3D side of things, there will be an XSI demo with Softimage’s Chinny. Todd Akita of Psyop will share some insights about working on high-profile commercials.

I will be on the discussion panel with other media professionals to talk about our industry what it takes to make it in the business. There are no magic formulas, but it will be interesting to talk about some of the aspects of our work with my colleagues and the students.

Buying equipment

Posted on August 16th, 2007 in Hardware, Software, The Company by Marc Bourbonnais

Space Ace was asking a couple of weeks ago about the gear we will have to buy in our start-up. I won’t go in the details just yet since we are currently shopping around and going through sales quotes. A few things I can mention about financing and buying equipment:

Everything has to be in the business plan. Your business plan will go through the hands of bankers, investors and partners. They WILL check up on you. So if you forgot to put in those high-end ergonomic chairs, you’ll have to explain why you need to modify your initial budget for twenty 800$ chairs. Be realistic, right from the start. You’re better off with a high start-up cost than looking like someone that did not plan your business start-up properly.

Make sure you’re reasonable about the time you need to pay off your hardware. Accountants will try to write off your hardware in about five years. In this biz we all know our computers are obsolete after a year or two. You can stretch your early loans in five years, but think about the hardware you’ll have to upgrade or replace after two years.

You will not be able to rent hardware until you have good credit. Your corporation is a week old and you want to lease 20 high-end workstations? Good luck.

… but the good news is: Material goods are the easiest costs to finance. Since they are sizable assets, your creditors can take it back if you tank. (But you won’t!) Your interest rate will be lower because the risk is low.

Show you are flexible and your creditors will be happy. I’m not saying you should overshoot just to lower your costs, but if you have a backup plan or a step-by-step scheme for buying equipment, you’ll have a better chance at financing. Creditors like milestones and would rather give money in several amounts over a period of time. 

Siggraph 2007 : Day 2

Posted on August 8th, 2007 in Hardware, Software, CG Community by Marc Bourbonnais

I spent the full day on the exhibition floor, and it should be the same tomorrow. I have to at least visit all the major 3D and 2D booths, and checking out what’s new with motion capture, 3D scanning and other stuff. I’ll post a recap later. Conversations start really quickly when you have “President” written on your badge. I miss going to the conferences, but I’ve got new priorities.

In the evening I attended the Softimage User Group, in the very slick Spreckels Theatre. My ex-employer Hybride was doing a presentation with Chris Watts, the VFX Sup from ‘300’. Hats off to Daniel and Joseph, I know the amount of work involved.  This was the first time I took part in a Hybride presentation… in the audience. I was the unofficial conference speaker back in the days. Times a-changin’.

 I had a choice of 4 parties afterwards; that’s the reward for spending time with vendors all day. Siggraph is all about scheduling conflicts anyway. I decided to check out the one closest to my hotel. The lack of sleep is starting to catch up and Siggraph is not over yet

Siggraph 2007 : Day 1.5

Posted on August 7th, 2007 in Hardware, Software, CG Community by Marc Bourbonnais

Even though I do not have a full conference pass, I’ve had plenty to do during my first 1.5 days at Sigg. The night before my trip to San Diego was rough; I had to finish all the paperwork for our corporate bank account and credit margin. I was all done at around 3:30 am. My plane was leaving Montreal at 7:30, so I had just enough time for a quick shower and a 30 minute “nap”. A night just like a prostproduction crunch.

 But now I’m here in beau-ti-ful San Diego. I spent Sunday afternoon walking around the Convention center meeting old friends. Most of them already knew all about our start-up thanks to this blog; the awesome feedback I keep getting never ceases to amaze me. Best wishes came from all around and my associates and I are thankful for all the encouragement we are receiving. It is quite clear we are on the right track.

 Monday started off with meeting software and hardware vendors so we can start working on quotes. It was great to meet a few of them before the hectic pace of the exhibition. As of now the only hardware we’re buying is…a fax machine, a printer and telephones, but in the next few weeks we’ll have to bring in workstations and servers.

 On Monday afternoon I attended the Softimage Research Summit to have a glimpse at what’s in the works with the fine folks at Soft. The Autodesk User Meet was next, followed by the incredible Autodesk Steel Beach party. An absolute blast, it had everything you need for a killer party: people by the thousands, free food, free booze, 360 flight simulators, music, go-go dancers… all on an aircraft carrier. I’m sure Autodesk, Café FX and their partners are more than happy with the turnout.

 Now I know why deep down inside I wanted to become an entrepreneur. To throw huge parties like that one.

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