Trends and Insight in association withSynapse Virtual Production
Not Utopia…But Pretty Darn Close: Why Canada’s Ripe with Post Production Talent
London, UK
Canada’s most exciting post production facilities on the country’s special appeal
If you type ‘emigrate’ into Google, the top suggestion is ‘emigrate to Canada’. As country reputations go, let’s just say that Canada’s isn’t too shabby. Following the recent USA presidential election result, Canada’s immigration website crashed under the mammoth spike in traffic. So, what’s the big deal? 

In terms of the creative industries, Canada’s got a thriving culture and enviably high living standards. The country’s been quietly and solidly churning out creative gems that make it a serious contender on the global creative scene, with post production being one its most impressive talents. LBB’s Koo Smith caught up with some of the most exciting members in the post production scene - Tendril, The Vanity, Nice Shoes, and Rooster - to take a closer look. 


The local market in a nutshell: Fun, busy, and vibrant with so much opportunity. We love Toronto and we love living in Canada. It’s sexy to be Canadian these days. 

What makes the creative scene unique: The intimacy – everyone knows each other. They'll be out at the bar together and on the same lunch patio the day after. It can work awesomely to your advantage, or to your disadvantage…

Notable recent trends: The tech, gaming, and start-up industries in Toronto are really starting to flourish. Amazing things are coming out of the local sector. 

Local/international split: We have such a crazy diverse team at Tendril - last time we counted, we speak thirteen languages! Toronto has officially been voted the most multi-cultural city in the world. Though we always hope to find a kick-ass local, oftentimes it requires us to look beyond Canada for specific skill sets. Thankfully, under our current Liberal government, bringing new talent from abroad is a bit less challenging than it was under our former Conservative government. 

Main challenge: Shrinking budgets and timelines. Depleting ethics are also super tough. This is probably the case everywhere, though. The obvious need for a code of fair business practices is something not restricted to just Canada.

Best thing about working in Canada: People elsewhere tend to think that Canada is a utopia, which it's not entirely. We have systemic inequality and glaring social issues, too. That said, the quality of life, for the most part, is pretty wonderful. The major urban areas of Canada are clean, welcoming, vibrant, hard-working, and cool places to live. 

Recent/upcoming projects: Aside from our award-winning work for the Nike LunarEpic series, which we directed, designed, and animated, we’re also doing some amazingly exciting interactive work for a few huge Silicon Valley tech companies. Our animated 'Coming to America' story that opens episode five of American Gods will be out soon!

American Gods still

The Vanity

The local market in a nutshell: The Toronto post world feels quite small but ironically has quite a large reach as the source of most of Canada’s advertising. Luckily, the city and by extension the country is blessed with incredibly talented people who seem to have endless ideas, technical prowess, and passion for what they do. 

What makes the creative scene unique: We are creatively influenced by so many sources but the distance gives us pause and space to think. Canadians are extremely good observers and, statistically, we create great animators.  

Local/international split: All of our employees are locals. Most of the main players in the Canadian post community have come up through the ranks having put in their time as assistants and juniors in this market.   

Main challenge: In post, it’s always schedule. The creative expectations are no different than in New York or London so we routinely squeeze out more from each hour and because projects are packed back to back and often overlapping it can be a battle.  

Best thing about working in Canada: It has the best of everything. Every stereotype is true: the people are generally very friendly and caring toward others and it’s a very safe place. The population is incredibly diverse and with that, there are only benefits. Food, music, fashion, and art are all infused and influenced by our surroundings.

Recent/upcoming projects: The second Sick Kids film, ‘Milk and Cookies’, has probably been our favourite and the most satisfying. Again, all the kids are real patients at the hospital so this one just pulls on your heart and doesn’t let go. We were incredibly proud of the CG helicopter we created for this film and the fixes we did on the prop cookies.  

The methodology behind ‘The Anthem’, 
The Vanity's original Sick Kids campaign film.

Nice Shoes 

The local market in a nutshell: Toronto’s a great community. We had high hopes for our expansion from the USA into Canada last year, but it’s been an overwhelmingly good response; there was a line around the block for our opening party! We’re really excited to be seeing so much great work so soon. 

What makes the creative scene unique: The quality of the creative and the imagination. There’s a lot of engaging thinking within the visuals, and a certain sense of humour and energy that’s very Canadian. As an internationally competitive market, the bar’s been set very high. The community’s also really tight. People actually hang out outside of work. 

Notable trends: There’s been more character animation coming through. Many advertisers seem to be embracing bright, fun colours, which is perfect for a company with a strong background in colour. VR is something that we’re getting more questions about too. A lot of teams are still exploring VR to make sure they’re telling the right story on the right platform. We’ve had experience in crafting both interactive and 360 video VR experiences, so we’re ready to help them.

Local/international split: We have an Australian Colourist, a British Creative Director, and our client service/receptionist is from Brooklyn. We can’t speak for the entire industry, but for that amount of diversity within a small shop, I think that indicates how much of a draw Canada is right now. 

Main challenge: Everyone wants to keep the creative big and imaginative, but with smaller budgets. It’s a tight market for talent here, so building a great freelance network is key to being able to stay lean and flexible.

Best thing about working in Canada: The great culture. People love what they do and everyone looks out for each other as they move through their careers, which is really unique. The quality of life in Canadian cities is pretty hard to beat (once you get past the winter).

Recent/upcoming projects: Right on opening the doors, we collaborated with a new agency, No Fixed Address, on ‘Project Arachnid’, which was an exciting creative opportunity. We also recently worked with an awesome creative team on a beautiful fashion campaign for OGX, 'Rock What You Got'. Ros was given creative license to really play with colours on a project she believed in and is very proud of.


The local market in a nutshell: Fiercely competitive! Toronto’s a very vibrant creative market and one that does well on the international awards show stage. 

What makes the creative scene unique: Simple, smart creative is what we do best. It also plays well with our challenging budgets in this market.

Main challenge: With so many advertising agencies setting up in-house post facilities within their agencies, our biggest challenge, like many in this industry, is to figure out how we can maintain our overhead while still representing top editorial talent and doing the best work despite reduced revenue. 
Think of it like this: we’ve opened a great restaurant with the best chefs and staff, and we always need to be on standby for when our clients want a meal at a moment’s notice. But we’ve found out that our clients have decided to eat in that night, and we’ve also had to deal with the fact that our client’s clients have decided to eat at our client’s house too. Not easy.

Best thing about working in Canada: Good healthcare system, fairly safe cities, and a very talented community of advertising and production people. 

Recent/upcoming projects: Aside from our work on 'The Dinner Party' campaign for Dairy Farmers of Canada, our editor, Marc Langley, worked with FCB on Ontario Tourism’s visually stunning 'Where Am I?' campaign, which was filmed over nine months and showcased Ontario in an unfamiliar way. Other recent projects that have been recognised at awards include Editor Paul Proulx’s ‘Not Allowed’ for Moms Demand Action, a three-spot campaign for Special Olympics Canada edited by Dave De Carlo, and Marc Langley’s ‘Ladyballs’ for Grey & Ovarian Cancer Canada.

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