5@8 Créatif – Montréal : 3rd global production

center of film special effects.

Why and how?

Par :

Romain Rampa

 Following Mosaic Creative 5@8 – March 30 2016:

3rd global production center of film special effects. Why and how?

Speaker: Émilie Dussault


Did you know that Montréal is a global trendsetter in the digital and multimedia ?

Not only is the city renowned for being the third largest video game cluster, but it is also ranked third for visual effects. In an industry worth $1.3 billion and representing 20,000 jobs in Canada,   Montréal and Vancouver are among the most fertile global ecosystems in this sector, boasting an average annual growth of more than 25% since 2013. Émilie Dussault, General Manager of Montréal-based MPC, is eminently positioned to share the secrets of her success, the drivers of this growth and the details of the creative processes of a firm globally acclaimed for its special effects.

Alongside Sylvain Lafrance, associate professor at HEC Montréal and director of the media cluster, the conference began with a discussion of the evolution of the media industry, which is thriving like never before, but which is also facing an unprecedented onslaught of changes. How can Canadian firms best compete when national business models are being rivaled by new global players like Netflix and YouTube? Our academic speaker argued that the solution partly lies in renewing service offered through local innovations, and in creating synergies between a number of actors and alliances, notably to convince public policy makers of the need to create good conditions for growth for the industry, to enhance its global competitiveness.

For MPC, bought by the giant Technicolor group in 2004, Émilie Dussault explained that the key starting point is constant innovation by organizations. In a universe that had to evolve from film to digital, and 2D to 3D animation techniques, innovation in the visual effects industry is imperative to keep up with ever accelerating technological advances. For Technicolor, this bet seems to be paying off: the organization holds a leadership position in cinematographic post-production and DVDs, and ranks second worldwide for decoders.  The firm successfully maintains its frontrunner status by constantly investing in research and development, by creating software using the latest technological possibilities, by forming a closely connected network of subsidiaries distributed in strategic locations, and by inceasing its base of 40,000 global patents by about 2,000 patents each year.

In fact, the challenges and promising topics in the industry are rapidly evolving. Tomorrow, the market may focus on enhanced reality and a host of new digital experiences. Ms. Dussault argues that creative process and innovation management have become unavoidable challenges for all industry players. She emphasizes that MPC has taken advantage of a well-structured global network that successfully diffused a common language, notably in programming logics, to make major breakthroughs in software applications and development that support its activities. The organization also benefits from extensive knowledge transfers between employees, which allow it to share the successes and failures of each project.

The strength of its approach can be measured in the number of contracts that the firm has successfully concluded with Hollywood producers. In addition, the company has created many successful software applications from scratch, like Furtility, used to design all types of furs; Kali, hailed for its realistic depiction of massive destruction of multiple objects and shapes, and Alice which duplicates elements notably used for the film World War Z.

Innovation must not be confined to the production and creation fields: it is also required in management tools and methods. MPC has thus developed multi-site virtual management tools to globally coordinate all of its activities. The firm put in place collaborative project management tools to support the work of each of its collaborators wherever in the world they may be, and to simplify the sharing of diverse essential information.

Lastly, these challenges are shared by the whole industry. Innovation requires ideal conditions in organizations to be captured, and to find fertile ground to develop and explore new complementarities. Montréal’s strength in this area relies on its ability to create different complementarities between coexisting ecosystems, including digital. Thanks to tax credits, the city has already developed an attractive environment. Sylvain Lafrance viewed the principal challenge as continuing to create synergies, partnerships and alliances to ensure the resilience of the visual effects industry in a context of vibrant global competition.