Montreal visual effects companies vying for Oscar glory tonight

Several visual effects companies based in Montreal are eagerly awaiting Sunday’s Oscars ceremony, in hopes that their efforts will be rewarded at Hollywood’s biggest night.

Richard Hoover, a visual effects supervisor at Framestore in Montreal, is nominated for his work on Blade Runner 2049.

“I think we’ve got a really good chance,” said Hoover, whose been nominated twice before but has yet to take home the iconic golden statue.

“But you never know how the academy is going to vote.”

Hoover told CBC’s Homerun that he’s looking forward to attending the ceremony in California but that he still gets nervous.

“The butterflies start to form in your stomach as you wait for your category to be called,” he said.

framestore blade runner

Framestore was responsible for the visual effects creating the orange-toned wasteland in Blade Runner 2049. (Framestore)

Quebec director Denis Villeneuve made a point of working with a number of local companies on the film, which he screened at Montreal’s Festival du nouveau cinéma in the fall.

Framestore has worked on a number of high-profile projects including Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (for which they received another 2018 Oscar nomination for visual effects), Beauty and the Beast, Avengers and The Martian.

But this is the first time they have done a project that is 100 per cent out of Montreal.

“It means a lot for the Montreal team particularly,” said Adrien Saint Girons, a computer graphics supervisor at ‎Framestore.

Adrien Saint Girons

Adrien Saint Girons said that some of the Framestore employees plan to get together and watch the Oscars live Sunday night. (Radio-Canada)

He said that the Oscar nod makes all the hours of hard work worthwhile.

The company also recently won an award for special visual effects at the 2018 British Academy Film Awards (BAFTAs).

Another visual effects company from Montreal is celebrating not one but three nominations for Star Wars: The Last JediKong: Skull Island and Blade Runner 2049.

Adam O’Brien-Locke, who works for Rodeo FX, joked that the company has a 60 per cent chance of taking home a trophy.

Oscar Nominations-Where To See

The Oscars will air Sunday, March 4 at 8 p.m. ET. (Matt Sayles/Associated Press)

The Moving Picture Company (MPC), based in Montreal, also worked on Blade Runner 2049. It was responsible for bringing back the character of Rachael from the original film, played by 1982-era Sean Young.

Richard Clegg — a computer graphics supervisor at MPC — said that once the company developed a visual effect using motion capture technology to simulate Young’s performance, they put the effect and the original film side by side and asked Villeneuve to guess which was real and which was fake.

MPC Blade Runner 2049 VFX breakdown from MPC on Vimeo.

“Some people coin it as the holy grail of visual effects,” said Clegg of creating such a subtle, realistic humanoid effect.

“It’s one of the things that’s not easy to do…to try and trick an audience into believing it’s a real person.”

While the movie was well-received by critics, it didn’t fare as well at the box office.

The movie’s opening weekend brought in a weak $31.5 million US, a disappointment for a film that took $150 million to make.

Blade Runner 2049 was nominated for five Oscars total, all of which all are in “craft” categories, not bigger ones like directing or best picture.

Villeneuve said he felt honoured, but disappointed that the academy failed to recognize the soundtrack of his film.

Denis Villeneuve

Denis Villeneuve is the director of Blade Runner 2049, the sequel to the neo-noir and sci-fi film from 1982. (CBC)

“I think what [composers Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch] did for the movie, the score of the movie, was by far one of the best this year,” Villeneuve said.

Villeneuve was nominated for best director in 2016 for his film Arrival, starring Amy Adams. The film won in the category of Best Sound Editing.

The Academy Awards will be broadcast Sunday, March 4 starting at 8 p.m. ET.


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