When VFX made in France shine around the world
According to the annual study of CNC-Audiens, French visual effects are on the rise. Even if budgets remain modest, the use of digital effects is becoming increasingly common in French feature films, with ambitious productions being relocated to France. International attractiveness is further enhanced by an improved international tax credit for works with strong digital visual effects.
Audiens, the trusted partner of France cultural and media sectors in terms of social protection, published earlier this year its joint annual study with CNC (French National Center for Cinema) on the state of film and audiovisual employment in France. The VFX and animation industry is showing growth in terms of number of companies, particularly in Paris area but also in other regions such as the Occitanie region. This growth is supported by the international tax credits (TRIP) that contributes to increase the attractiveness of the services delivered by French companies.
As Audiens celebrated its 20th anniversary, the organization published a special issue of its magazine and made a special focus on The Yard as an example of growing studios and interviewed Laurens Ehrmann, Founder and CEO of The Yard.
You’ll find below a translation of the articles. Have a good read !
When made in France VFX shine on the world stage
With credits on Albert Dupontel’s Second Tour, Shawn Levy’s upcoming Netflix series All The Light We Cannot See and James Mangold’s Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (in theatres since June 30), The Yard, the company founded in 2014 by Laurens Ehrmann, illustrates the excellence of French expertise in digital effects.
With 90% of its clients American and 10% French, it is one of the few 100% French companies to work internationally. With around a hundred employees, it has just opened a branch in Montpellier and signed a partnership with ArtFX, one of the world’s most prestigious schools. The aim is to work with the school on masterclasses to better prepare students to their professional life in the context of international productions.
The Yard’s bet? To show that France is capable of attracting international talent ! Laurens Ehrmann, an enthusiast, who fulfilled his childhood dream of combining cinema, innovation and IT, has adopted the motto of Confucius:
« Choose a job you love, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life! »
VFX now recognized by France Academy Cesar awards
At a time when cinema can’t do without visual effects, it was high time that VFX supervisors received the honors of the profession at the Académie des César. This has been the case since 2022. Laurens Ehrmann, who won the award for Jean-Jacques Annaud’s Notre-Dame on Fire (Notre-Dame Brûle), gives an overview of the profession.
What is the state of digital effects in cinema ?
More or less visible, more or less impressive, special effects are almost everywhere. They can solve many problems, from budget to weather conditions, from the means of access to a location to the possible risks for an actor…
Producers are well aware that the earlier VFX supervisors get involved in the process, the more ideas they can put forward. Visual effects don’t make a good film, or a good actor !
With the exception of blockbusters, where the amounts involved are colossal, our costs represent between 10% and 12% of the overall budget for classic films.
At what stage have you been involved on Notre-Dame on Fire ?
I joined six months before the start of the shoot, halfway through the preparation. Familiar with special and visual effects, Jean-Jacques Annaud wanted to shoot as much as possible in camera, while using digital technology to complete and enrich the effects of flames and smoke, or to recreate and extend certain parts of the sets. The challenge was to find the best combination of production techniques.
How did you approach the film ?
I wanted to work by type of effect and by geographical area, which I divided between the teams of my company, The Yard, which produced 20% of the effects, and MPC Paris, for the remaining 80%. The Yard’s mission was to handle all the shots on the north transept (extending the set, adding flames, smoke and reflections in the firefighters’ helmets), as well as the long shot above the burning cathedral. MPC Paris was responsible for the shots inside the cathedral and all exterior shots (addition of smoke, ashes, etc.).
For the cathedral’s north transept, we had to fully recreate a part of the set, in Bry-sur-Marne, and create flames that were blended with the real ones, lit live! By juxtaposing them, the images had to be one and the same, to be as close to reality as possible: these are the so-called « transparent » special effects.
Get to know more about the VFX work done on Notre Dame on Fire (Notre-Dame brûle) by watching the showreel below.