VFX Online Townhall Meeting

Posted on March 18th, 2010 in CG Community, Working in CG by Marc Bourbonnais

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An interesting happening will take place on March 29th; the VFX Online Townhall Meeting where an “open discussion of a visual effects industry in transition” will take place online as a free, virtual meeting. Already the interest is very high in the community, and signups are happening at a rapid pace.

This panel is set up by Lee Stranahan, a former visual effects artist and writer for The Huffington Post who posted a hugely popular article a while back: Open Letter To James Cameron: Fairness For Visual Effects Artists. His views on how the VFX industry is working hard to attain proper recognition and acceptable working conditions in a world where digital effects movies top the box-office stirred many conversations. The recent abrupt closing of two highly respectable digital studios, Image Movers Digital in San Rafael and C.O.R.E. Digital in Toronto has kept this topic a hot subject.

The panel will feature Chris deFaria -Vice President, Warner Bros. Pictures, Jefferey A. Okun – Visual Effects Society Chair and visual effects supervisor and Scott Ross – Co-Founder of Digital Domain & former CEO of Industrial, Light and Magic.

I have already signed up.



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.

 

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The Quebec Film and Television Council

Posted on October 2nd, 2007 in CG Community, The Company by Marc Bourbonnais

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Modus FX is now a proud member of the Quebec Film and Television Council. The QFTC’s mission is to promote the province of Quebec as a world-class center for the production of film and television.

The Council is a natural partner for any business in our industry. In fact, we know very well many of the current members and it’s a great place for networking. We already took part in our first cocktail last Friday where we met American producers who were in Quebec for some location scouting.

We also had a chance to chat with colleagues from Rodeo FX, Damn FX and FX Cartel. With all our acquaintances we are very eager to contribute in the development of our industry in the region.



Promoting

Posted on August 27th, 2007 in Entrepreneurship, The Company by Marc Bourbonnais

A reader who recently started his own animation studio sent me a few interesting questions about the different promotional strategies:

  • What are your thoughts on agents/reps? Most people claim they don’t help, but most of the successful studios have them.

I think they can help but since we are at an early business stage, we are keeping expenses very low. Just using our own contacts and networks is keeping us busy at the moment. We already have a few prospects on our plate for the coming weeks. They are not real contracts yet, but we are working on it…

  • What mix of direct mail, advertising, cold phone calling do you have planned?

If by advertising you mean placing ads in Cinefex, again the cost issue is holding us back. It might be a fine idea for established companies, but I have doubts for start-ups. There are other ways to promote your studio. You can join one of the many film or FX studio associations, especially if there is one in your region; with their help you can gain some extra exposure and new contacts.

As for direct mail and cold phone calling, yes we are doing a lot of that for the first few weeks. You will not get immediate results but it does not cost a dime and you can at least get your name into new places.

  • What types of networking events and strategies are you considering to meet new potential clients?

Every event of any kind! Getting to new clients is the hardest part. We’ve already met new interesting people just by going through our list of contacts, so that’s a start. Even outside professionals such as accountants and lawyers can have connections in your industry. As I’ve mentioned before, talk about your biz to all your friends and their friends as well.



Milestone I

Posted on July 16th, 2007 in Entrepreneurship, CG Community, The Company by Marc Bourbonnais

Now that this blog has appeared on xsibase.com and that traffic has gone up 800%, (ahem, hi everyone!) perhaps I can step back and go through where we are at with the start-up.

  • We are three partners with close to 33% each in the company. There is Vincent Toussaint, myself and a third partner that will be announced soon, probably this week-end. We all have over 10 years experience in the CG / VFX industry and have known each other for a long time. Our skill and expertise are very different and best of all, very complementary.
  • It took us over four months to write our business plan from scratch. Re-writes are common in the last stages of financing, when every other day brings a new possible loan or investor. It’s a good thing we’re used to versioning in this business!
  • Two prospects are going well, with more along the way. We have a law firm, an accounting firm, a few government loans and just enough support from banks. We’re negotiating a long-term lease for a huge open space. Yes, incorporating the business name is taking a long time, but in a few days we’ll be officially in business.

 Here’s a few thing I’ve learned along the way:

  • As soon as you get some form of recognition (usually a loan or grant from some government official) everything starts to move very quickly. You get more people interested simply because someone gave a damn about your idea.
  • You absolutely need decent professional services (lawyers, accountants, management coaching) to calm down banks and investors. You have to shop around for people you’ll be paying close to 200 bucks an hour, so make sure they pay for the cappuccino the first time you meet them.
  • Everybody is happy to meet entrepreneurs that are not from a business background. If you can talk about your work with a spark in your eye, you’re in. Every time.
  • Visibility, contacts, network. Scream your project in the streets. Start a blog! People will eventually be interested in your idea eventually, but first they have to know about it.
  • Be patient. Be optimistic. You’re driving this thing and trying to get people onboard. Above all, stay focused. This is a very long journey, and you can’t catch your breath even for an instant.


Introverted Networking - Part II

Posted on July 13th, 2007 in Entrepreneurship, CG Community by Marc Bourbonnais

Hey, it’s good to be quiet and poised. Here are a few links on the subject of networking for those who think it is not their nature:

So there you have it; meeting new people is not that hard.



Introverted Networking - Part I

Posted on July 11th, 2007 in Entrepreneurship, Working in CG by Marc Bourbonnais

In this blog I write a lot about contacts, friends, old colleagues, i.e. networks. Obviously the size of the network I’ve built in the +10 years experience in the field was a big factor in my decision of going into business. You’re more likely to get work from people you know. I’ve realized that your best contacts do not come from the current top VFX supervisors, producers and directors you meet as clients. They come from the old friends you haven’t seen in a few years and who today are in key positions at a production company somewhere. This stab at entrepreneurship (coupled with this blog) enabled me to quickly reconnect with old acquaintances that are now potential clients!

There is a lot of information out there on social skills and networking. With this new Web 2.0 craze, it’s even hip. I’ve read a few books and blogs about connections. The advice I have found is very interesting. You don’t have to be a people person to be network-savy. You’ve guessed it; I’m more of an introvert. I over-calculate. I’m not good at starting conversation. I don’t consider myself a shy guy; a few times I’ve given presentations about my job to large crowds. I just get nervous sometimes with basic chit-chat. I’m still a pleasant guy, I just worry too much about the impression I’m leaving.

This business runs on networks and contacts. It took me over 10 years of hard labor to get here. I’ve met a lot of people. Some advice to anyone out there with similar aspirations: be patient, work hard and be nice to each and every one of your colleagues. You never know, a few years from now…

 Part 2 with some links and resources in a future post…