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Montreal Studio up for VES Award
By Staff

<Source Code, production still>

(February 5, 2012 - Montréal, Québec) What with the Golden Globes, the Screen Actors Guild and the Academy Awards looming large later this month, you can be forgiven if you missed the VES Awards. The what? you ask. The VES Awards are handed out by the US-based Visual Effects Society and this will be their 10th year. The VES Awards recognizes and honours the most outstanding visual effects work of the year and honours the artists who created them.

What makes this year's awards interesting is that a number of Canadian companies collaborated on providing visual effects to the film Source Code, and it's one of five titles nominated for Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Feature Motion Picture. The other films in the same category are Anonymous, Hugo, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows and War Horse. That's nice company to be in.

Source Code was directed by Duncan Jones and it was Jones who took his special needs to Montreal's Modus FX and visual effects supervisor Louis Morin and VFX producer Annie Godin. The way the VES awards are structured, both Morin and Godin are nominated for the award. "We had 850 shots to manage and a budget of $3.5 million dollars."<Source Code, production still> said Morin, "and for most of the film you would have no idea that visual effects were even used." In all four Montreal-area studios became involved with Modus FX handling the complex digital crowd shots, CG trains, environments and dramatic pyrotechnics.

"Morin is a very effective and creative VFX supervisor," said Jones. "He found really excellent boutique facilities that were able to craft individual, and very different kinds of effects that we needed in the movie." The studios included Rodeo FX, which crafted the crucial greenscreen windows for the train interiors; FLY Studio, which created the futuristic CG pod sequences and key transitions; and Oblique FX, responsible for creating the CG bomb, a virtual stuntman and a poetic slow-motion explosion sequence. Toronto-based Mr. X contributed to the greenscreen train window backgrounds and MPC Vancouver handled the exterior shots of explosions and a train crash sequence.

“In the grand scheme of things, this was not a big-budget film,” said Jones. “That meant we had to be fairly specific about the FX we wanted. We couldn’t play around with too many ideas. We really couldn’t afford to make mistakes."

Source Code is a psychological sci-fi thriller that tells the story of a U.S. soldier, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, who wakes up in the body of another man on a Chicago commuter train. Shortly after that, the train blows up. As part of an experimental military mission, Gyllenhaal’s character is forced to repeat those final eight minutes on the train, working out how it was blown up, and, ultimately, how to prevent the tragedy. "All the vendors pushed really hard to make it the best show possible," said Annie Godin, VFX producer on the film. "Duncan and the producers had a lot of trust in us and that was very motivating for everyone. Louis guided the work so well that the vendors got shots approved quickly and could move along to the next tasks very efficiently."

"I was delighted by how effective those facilities were at dividing up the work like that. They were very professional, and I think they really enjoyed the process themselves,” said Jones.

The 10th Annual VES Awards will take place on February 7th at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Stan Lee will be honored with the VES 2012 Lifetime Achievement award and Douglas Trumbull will be honoured with the Society's coveted Georges Méliès Award. It is interesting to note that Méliès was a famous filmmaker who worked from the 1890s through the 1920s and made the world’s first science fiction movie. He is an extremely important to the story of Hugo, which is one of the films competing with Source Code.

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