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March 20
2019

ISSUE

Spring 2019

VES Vancouver: Dynamic Growth in a Vibrant Community

By NAOMI GOLDMAN

Meeting Section members and guests.

The Visual Effects Society’s growing international presence owes much to its dynamic network of Sections, who galvanize their regional VFX communities while advancing the reach and reputation of Society and industry worldwide. Founded in 2007, the Vancouver Section – one of three Canadian Sections, along with Toronto and Montreal – is flourishing thanks to its strong leadership and collaborative visual effects community. The Vancouver Section has established itself as a hub in western Canada, as well as an active and contributing force in the global marketplace.

“The Vancouver VFX community is tight knit and has a high caliber of professionals working here today,” says Shauna Bryan, former Chair, VES Vancouver Section Board of Managers. “There are a lot of people who have been here since the genesis of the VFX boom and have a strong sense of local pride in their roots and our hometown industry. And then there are those that have relocated to our beautiful, livable city. Together, that mix makes for a diverse network and support system.”

Vancouver has established itself as a truly world-leading center of VFX and animation talent and technology. It boasts one of the largest clusters of visual effects and animation studios in the world, home to more than 60 domestic and foreign-owned companies, including Sony Picture Imageworks, ILM, Rainmaker Studios, Image Engine, Stargate Studios, Double Negative, Method Studios and Cinesite Vancouver. The industry is also well-supported through education and training programs for artists, software engineers, and other technical-related professionals.

“Our set-up is similar to London, where everyone works in the bustling SoHo hub,” continues Bryan. “Because of our city design, we have two clusters of facilities in downtown Gastown and across the Cambie Street Bridge, and you can walk and hit most of the VFX houses. It makes for a community that is very social, communal and integrated, and practitioners are constantly moving from one company to another.”

Jeffrey A. Okun, VES, Susan Rowe, Steve Garrad and Shauna Bryan at Spark FX 2019.

Ready to enjoy a special screening of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

VES members and guests enjoying Pub Night at SIGGRAPH.

“The Vancouver VFX community is tight knit and has a high caliber of professionals working here today. There are a lot of people who have been here since the genesis of the VFX boom and have a strong sense of local pride in their roots and our hometown industry. And then there are those that have relocated to our beautiful, livable city. Together, that mix makes for a diverse network and support system.”

—Shauna Bryan, former Chair, VES Vancouver Section Board of Managers

A full house at the Diversity & Inclusion Summit at Spark FX 2019.

VES Vancouver has more than 200 members, about two-thirds working in feature film and the remainder in television. Much of its member recruitment comes through high-energy pub nights, a rich social platform to bring guests and prospective members. It also has a robust film screening series, holding events every month to foster a collegial atmosphere. Says Bryan, “We created a specific mandate to offer our members more value. Part of that was making a commitment to offer more screenings with better variety, and in downtown, accessible locations like Imageworks and DNEG.”

The Section has been focused on developing more educational events, hosted forums on the history of visual effects and a career development workshop on demo reels, with an opportunity to get feedback from industry professionals on how to better structure and present the work to make an impression and stand out from the crowd.

In addition to these programs, the Board of Managers decided to focus its time and resources on two large events for its 2019 calendar. In February, the Section joined up with the Spark FX Conference to co-present a Diversity & Inclusion Summit with the Spark CG Society. The “Tools for Change” summit offered practical advice to maintain and grow a culture of diversity, and focused on issues including equal pay and equity, navigating workplace challenges and work-family balance.

The Vancouver Section has a dynamic and engaged Board of Managers propelling it forward under the leadership of Co-Chairs Susan Rowe and Steve Garrad – and is enjoying a surge in new voices stepping up as volunteers for specific events or subcommittees.

In summing up the locale and unique culture, Bryan cites Vancouver’s impressive and ever-increasing concentration of companies and talent, matched by a first-rate infrastructure, a collaborative environment, business-friendly climate and outstanding quality of life.

“As with any experience, what you put in directly impacts what you get out of it. Professionally, if you want to invest in yourself, you need to be a part of an industry-collegial community where you can learn and grow and also give back. The VES is about fellowship, and it is an active way to bring together our peers to enhance their experience in this city, their social lives and professional career network. The Society is that place where ideas and relationships start to come together. At our best, we spark collaboration.”


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