October's VEF event was right up my alley, as it dealt with the changing face of the Vancouver film industry from physical sets and locations to explosions and computer-generated graphics. The panel consisted of some of the largest VFX and 3D animation studios in town, making for a night of interesting and frank commentary. I thoroughly enjoyed networking in the gorgeous Vancity Theatre venue, and would definitely recommend future VEF events to tech enthusiasts and companies.
First Things First: Lightning Pitches
VEF events are notorious for their Lightning Pitch openers- heart-pounding 100 second spots to pitch your company or idea. When asked by VEF Manager Chris McDonald, I couldn't help but step up to the plate to introduce Gloo Studios and the phenomenal growth of our own Visual Effects department. While it takes a bit of practice and timing, I urge all savvy networkers to embrace this kind of opportunity and score some free publicity for your brand. If your message is memorable, and your ask is persuasive, then speaking in front of a wider audience can prove extremely beneficial for making connections later on.
Case in point – during the pitch, I called out my Director of VFX (who also attended the event) on the account of his ‘sexy hair.' Mike said that all of the people he talked to were able to identify him because of my pitch, providing a great conversation point.
What's Changed? Vancouver's Animation & Visual Effects Scene
The panel featured:
– Sony Pictures Imageworks
– Digital Domain
– Nerd Corps Entertainment
– Image Engine
The questions and discussions focused on a variety of topics surrounding Vancouver's current film industry. A key trend of the night was the emphasis of Vancouver's rise as a world-class centre for Visual Effects & Animation, fueled by the presence of prominent studios, great local schools and talent, and BC tax credits. There was definitely a feeling that the level of talent had developed and matured to compete with other centres of animation around the world.
Of course, no industry is an island. There were also some challenges surrounding the city's high cost of living, and the ambiguity of government support for bringing in overseas talent on renewable working visas. As with any business, HR and hiring were big concerns – not only in sourcing talent, but retaining them and ensuring that they could be employed elsewhere when the studio ramped down between major projects.
Overall, the night was positive in the growth and future potential of Vancouver's Animation & Visual Effects industry. It was an evening of great connections and insights, and I highly recommend VEF events for your networking calendar!