Two Years Ago

Posted on June 22nd, 2009 in Working in CG, Blogging by Marc Bourbonnais

June 1st, 2007 was my last day as an employee and the first day of this blog, intended to follow my steps in the starting up of a visual effects company. Modus FX will be two years old in a few weeks…

We had a good feeling we could get through the market; we have a strong know-how for client relations, project management and, well, making VFX. The things my associates and I have learned about business administration, management and finances are overwhelming. Quickly identifying your weak spots and taking care of them, one problem at a time with clear, concise and easy solutions is key in entrepreneurship.

I’m not saying we’re on top of the world and our digital effects studio is this well-oiled machine, rendering away while I’m sipping a drink by the beach. We’re pumping a lot of hours; stress is high and our space still in renovations. But at least we have satisfied customers (even repeat business!) and we’re delivering our product.

Interface[s] Montreal 2008 : Animation and digital effects

Posted on January 21st, 2008 in CG Community, Working in CG by Marc Bourbonnais


This Tuesday, January 22 will be the first of seven presentations from the 3rd edition of Interface[s] Montreal at the Society of Arts and Technology. The first event will showcase presentations and debates on animation and special effects, featuring:

  • John V. Kennedy, Digital effects producer
  • Benoît Melançon, Director of training in compositing, NAD Center
  • Martin Poirier, Project administrator, Blender
  • Jean-Sébastien Guillemette, Artist, Blender
  • Marc Bourbonnais, President and co-founder, Modus FX
  • Robert Moodie, Technical Director, Pipeline/R-D, Image Buzz
  • Mathieu Raynault, Matte painter and co-founder, Rodeo FX

A first for this year, the night is produced in part by the Quebec Film and Television Council. You can get tickets here.

VFX supervisors in film production

Posted on January 4th, 2008 in Working in CG, Movies by Marc Bourbonnais

Hi all, quick post to start up the New Year;

Effects Corner (excellent blog by the way) was recently mentioning a nice article in Variety about the increasing level of recognition that VFX supervisors are getting in movie production. Our industry is maturing every day; it’s well known in our business that the sooner we are involved in the production process, the lower our Tylenol budget.

About getting a job in CG - VFX - Games

Posted on October 22nd, 2007 in Working in CG by Marc Bourbonnais

A few quick pointers from my presentation at ADAPT 2007 about careering in digital media; especially since we’re going through demo reels and resumes:

  • The resume

Short, brief and to the point. Employers first want to know where you’ve worked, what you’ve worked on, and to a lesser extent, what training center or school did you attend. Never mind the part-time job in a hardware store, we don’t care. At least do not waste precious resume space by explaining that your duties included “keeping the lawnmower inventory up to date”.

  • The reel

Again, short and to the point. If you have enough material to leave out your less than stellar work, do it. An employer will decide in about 10 seconds if he/she wants to continue watching your reel, so you better have the best 10 seconds of your professional career right at the start.

  • The Interview

If you’re up to the interview part, then you have enough experience and talent for the job. Now they want to know if you’re ok to work with, period. Just be nice. Be interested in the company. Have stories to tell. Prepare good answers for common questions (see link below). Show you’re a great person to work with and the job is yours. I know it sounds corny, but nobody likes to work with jerks, no matter how talented they are. This business is about teamwork, creativity and long hours.

A few links on getting a job:

VFX Hack : Making a Demo Reel That Doesn’t Suck

The Career Gamer : Part I – Getting The Job
(4 part editorial)

50 Common Interview Questions Q&A
(one of my favorites)

ADAPT 2007 : Day One

Posted on September 25th, 2007 in CG Community, Working in CG by Marc Bourbonnais

The 2007 edition of ADAPT kicked off on Monday with a fine keynote address by Phil Tippett. I remember seeing him for the first time at Siggraph a few years ago; he was doing a very informative and pretty funny presentation about his studio’s work on The Haunting.

This time it was about his career and views about his work, from early stop-motion shorts to CG work on Jurassic Park and many others. His talk was very inspiring and he’s a very entertaining speaker. It’s always exciting to see the early work of pioneers in the field, and we were lucky to see some pretty funky shorts he worked on before his professional career. I liked the G.I Joe doll getting jabbed to death by a slithering clay creature…

We were also treated to some before-and-after VFX scenes of The Spiderwick Chronicles, that Tippett Studio is just wrapping up. The shooting for the movie was completed about a year ago right here in Montreal. The designs and model work of the goblins we saw were amazing, and we were privileged to see a rough cut of a completed short scene. Good stuff.

So the week started off on a terrific note. And hey, looking to my right there was Syd Mead sitting in the audience. Great times ahead…


Posted on September 17th, 2007 in CG Community, The Company by Marc Bourbonnais

Finally, after securing a fair amount of funds, starting the interior renovations, setting up purchase orders for hardware and tackling on a number of potential contracts, our available jobs board is open. We are lucky to work with remarkable freelancers and we are hoping to also start building an in-house team in October.

Being a start-up, all the classic CG/VFX positions are available. We are setting up a database that we will maintain up-to-date for anyone that will send us their coordinates and resume. We value every application and even if things do not work out right away it is in our interest to keep in touch with a large network of possible employees and freelancers for future work opportunities.

You can check out our available jobs at Hope to hear from you!

We pitch good, yes.

Posted on July 18th, 2007 in The Company, Working in CG by Marc Bourbonnais

Remember that first pitch I was writing about a few days ago? Well it went through. The clients liked our estimates, our company philosophy our presentation and of course our price. Does it mean we have a contract, and we’ll be buying a bunch of computers and hiring staff? Wellll… not quite.

 So the production house in Europe is fine with our proposal, but they have to sell their whole package to the advertising agency. So, we sit and wait. At least there’s a couple of good news. First, we’re now on the good list of effects providers for this client; they’ve already sent us a new project to evaluate. Second, we can use this accepted proposal to show our creditors we’re doing something right. Hopefully they will cut us a little slack.

 Getting a contract is obviously a good thing. But going through a good pitch is just as significant. The important thing is to have a very quick and efficient way of evaluating jobs and presenting your proposals.

Quick anatomy of a VFX pitch

Posted on July 6th, 2007 in Working in CG, Technical by Marc Bourbonnais

A pitch for digital effects is simple when you split it into three parts:

  • Intention : You can use a classic letter of intent to lay the ground work for your pitch. Is the work loaded with technical issues or is it more an artistic blowout? Is some of your previous experience close to what is proposed? What about your staff and equipment? What do you know about this potential client that goes well with your company?
  • Breakdown: Elaborate on some of the key aspects of the work involved. Declare any difficulties you are noticing and of course have a solution for everything. Mention anything not included with the time estimate, i.e. meetings, approvals, data and plate sharing, external costs…
  • Estimate: Numbers, hours, money. Here is where you can prove you know what you are talking about. Make sure your estimates are good, because you will be moving numbers around to help balance the budget and manage delays. Numbers too high or too low are contract killers, if the clients know what to expect. Too high and they will shop somewhere else. Too low and they will mention that you “did not understand the full amount of work involved”.

With decent numbers and an honest presentation you’ll have the best chance for a positive response. Even if the deal does not go through, they will come back with another contract later if they were satisfied with what they went through. Even better, they will spread a good word about you in the biz, which is crucial for a start-up.

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