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.

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.

Getting to a pitch

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

Funny thing, pitching for a job when your company does not even exist yet. This is exactly what happened this weekend. A first pitch for a real TV commercial with a solid workload. I had my first freelance contract a few days ago, but this is for a real team. It’s from Europe. How did it get here you say?

In this business, it’s who you know. And how many you know. And who they know. VFX supervisors and producers are closer to you than you think. And they will gladly consider giving work to people they know and trust. So by just being a new interesting blip on the CG community’s radar, your start-up project makes it way through word of mouth. Suddenly you’re a potential player.

Of course, a pitch is just a pitch. In this case it’s probably just to make acquaintance, see if you’re for real and verify what the company is about (also to check the prices of course…). Nevertheless you do your homework, write a decent report, send it back and wait. Just like I was saying about meeting with investors, the worst that can happen is that they tell you “no”, with comments, remarks and even suggestions. So you can’t lose. If they say “yes” or “yes, but…” then things will get interesting…

 I’ll go over the elements of a clean pitch sometime this week. It’s pretty simple really, but the devil is in the details.


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.