March 4, 2017

Terabyte Sponsor

Creative BC

Kilobyte Sponsors

Capilano University

Bardel Entertainment

Bron Animation

Byte Sponsors

DHX Media, Ltd.

Sony Pictures Imageworks

Campbell River Creative Industries Council

Canadian Media Producers Association

Scalar Decisions

FullMeta Corporation



by Jessica Fernandes, Spark CG Society
March 4, 2017

Digital Days 2017: The Future Is Now

This year’s Digital Days conference and tradeshow took place March 4 at the Anvil Centre, in New Westminster. Made possible by the International Cinematographers Guild (IATSE 669), IATSE 891 Motion Picture Technicians, and the Directors Guild of Canada BC, the event showcased the creative process, work, techniques, technologies and challenges faced by crews for film, TV and VR.

With a wealth of interesting panel presentations, a keynote, demos, a tradeshow and a closing reception, there was a little something for everyone. As an active member of the local and international CG community, it was particularly interesting to gain additional insight into the craftsmanship and considerations that our on-set counterparts take into account. Given the vibrant, thriving creative industry in BC, it was also nice to see so many local productions in the spotlight.

With a number of different sessions on offer, you could pick and choose based on your interest. A quick glimpse into some of the sessions, below.

WB Superheroes Mash-Up

The Flash, Arrow, Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow are all WB shows, filmed in Vancouver and airing simultaneously. A panel representing directing, cinematography, production design, costume, and VFX addressed considerations required to keep these four shows running concurrently. Among the subjects tackled: challenges faced when sharing cast and sets, daylight/turnaround issues, schedule ownership, workflow when creative producers are based in LA and how to best leverage VFX to manage casting and scheduling conflicts.

Working in HDR and 4K

Panelists delved into the evolving workflow and challenges involved in shooting, editing and finishing with these standards. Among the considerations: how to better gauge results when shooting in HDR but limited by on-set monitors, better educating creatives to know what they’ll see when they get into post production, having to pay closer attention to the amount of footage shot, moving data (eg. pulling drives instead of transferring data), backup liability, storage costs, and workflow (eg. when working in 2K and uprezing is the only viable option).

Your Online Presence

In our digital age, getting on the social media bandwagon is a necessary evil to stay current. But what’s the best approach? What platforms are most suited to film creators and artisans? Can one turn controversy into advantage? Is it possible to use creativity to bypass privacy concerns? Award-winning film and web series producer, S. Siobhan McCarthy moonlights as a digital strategist and tackled the issues head on. Drawing from her experience, she shared approaches to creating a professional brand, gaining a desired following and strategized on how to best engage them.

Making the Most out of Your IMDb profile

We all know of IMDb, and likely all use it religiously for research, inspiration and self-promotion. But how well are we using it for the latter? As a free resource, in addition to enabling submission of credits for approval, there are biography, trivia and linkable options that we may not be making the most of Ever wondered how to change the list of “known for” films in your profile? Want to upload images or your demo reel to your page? How about gaining access to contact info and representation for agents and individuals? Or getting additional information on projects still in pre-production? IMDb Pro options (available at a monthly fee) may be worth a closer look, depending on your needs.

Cinematic VR

Virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed reality are all keywords in our evolving digital landscape. But how are 360° and VR videos actually filmed? What camera setups are used? Do creators favour 2D cameras or 3D ones? How is sound approached? What programs are used for stitching, finishing, etc.? We’ve come a long way from “planting a camera, running for cover, and hoping for the best.” Artistic Director Andrew MacDonald walked us through his process and the evolution of his approach.

A panel discussion followed, exploring the role of the cinematographer, the importance of story, 360° content vs. more interactive elements, and technological constraints and considerations.

The Man in the High Castle

What does it take to make a nostalgic, believable, futuristic world? The creative team of the award-winning series from Amazon Studios and Scott Free Productions discussed the process of creating “The Fallout” episode. The role of research, attention to detail, anthropological considerations (what artists, designers, aesthetic, would have survived in a Nazi-occupied alternate Americana) and re-appropriation of existing Vancouver spaces was explored.


Interspersed throughout the day were opportunities to check out the VR Lounge and onsite tradeshow while networking with fellow attendees. With breakfast snacks, coffee, lunch, and a reception provided in the cost of entry, it was easy and convenient to spend the entire day onsite making the most of the panels and presentations.

Closing Keynote

Closing off the event was an inspiring fireside chat with director and legendary Steadicam operator Stephen S. Campanelli. Having come to camera work almost by accident in Montreal, he worked his way up the ranks and fell in love with Steadicam. As the first to combine “A” Camera operating with Steadicam, he provided a new approach to filming which piqued the interest of top tier directors. Living out his dream, he was given a chance to work with Clint Eastwood on Bridges of Madison County and became Clint’s most trusted “camera eye.” Their ongoing successful collaborations, insights gained, lessons learned, and how these were applied in his transition from camera operator to director formed the basis of his talk. His passion for the craft, appreciation for others, and funny, candid anecdotes provided an interesting look into the creative process.

Providing insight into pre-production and on-set creative and technical processes, the Digital Days conference was a great way to explore a different facet of movie-making. It served as a lovely complement to the VFX/CG events we may be accustomed to and provided a nice reminder that we always have something to learn and something to share in the crossover of industry worlds.

All images copyright 2017 Spark CG Society. All Rights Reserved.

Jessica Fernandes Jessica Fernandes is an adventurer and wordsmith based in Vancouver. She enjoys spreading appreciation for the arts through stories and encounters with inspiring creators.

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