A New Type of Awards Show

With the uncertainty of COVID looming large over 2021’s production, the team decided that we were going to try a very VFX heavy approach. It was an exciting challenge to use our limitations to create something different and exciting. Working in collaboration with Jennifer Podemski, we came up with the idea to do a whimsical dreamscape that felt as though the presenters were walking through the minds of the award recipients. It was through this lens that we started the exploration of the environment that our presenters would inhabit.
Once we started down this path, and we started exploring this vivid colourful environment, we needed a way to ground the presenters so they wouldn’t feel as though they were floating in space. We went through a few different options but quickly found that shooting our recipients on a green screen with a reflective floor would give us the look we wanted to achieve. It was a bit of a scary proposition, but we did some previs and screen tests to make sure we could pull it off.
When the look was set, it quickly became clear that we needed a way to bring the audience into this space and Jen had the wonderful idea of using a traditional anishinaabe trickster/clown played by Michaela Washburn to create the memory/mind space that the audience could inhabit. This introduction proved to be one of the most technically difficult parts of the show to accomplish as we had to do a significant amount of motion tracking and multiple variations of the magical particle effects to get the look we wanted. We used a lot particle simulations mixed with various filmed dust and smoke elements to pull this off. We also used a fair bit of heat and chromatic distortion with the effects to add a kind of fluid look to the memories and the magical effects themselves.
It was very much a goal of ours to engage a younger audience with this look and the way we used visual effects. So when I showed what we created to my six year old and saw his excitement, I knew we were on to something.

Jennifer Podemski, Executive Producer, Director | Emma Jaconello, Producer | PJ Thornton, Producer | Aaron J Albert, Director | Jeff Maher, Director of Photography | Raven Polson-Lahache and ShoShona Kish, Composers | Ohad Benchetrit, Sound Design