Directives to reduce, reuse, recycle have been in place, but our efforts to solidify our best practices keeps the future in sight. – Lucy Kayumov, Manager, Marketing Operations at Sim Group.
by Gesila Azorbo
There was an atmosphere of camaraderie in the air at this year’s Sim Toronto Technology Showcase on January 25. Industry veterans and newcomers alike mingled by the bar, chatted and snacked on gourmet bites to the sounds of a live jazz band, and wandered between three large spaces set up at Sim Toronto’s Liberty Village headquarters, trying out some of the newest and best in film industry gear on the market today.
While this is Sim’s 13th annual edition of their tech showcase, this year is special for the company because it marks the first year of Sim as a full scale, end-to-end company. Following the mergers of eight companies – Bling, Chainsaw, Crossing Studios, Pixel Underground, Post FactoryNY, PS Production Services, SIM Digital and Tattersall Sound & Picture – the company has rebranded under the umbrella company Sim to form the four branches of Sim Studios, Sim Camera, Sim Lighting and Grip, and Sim Post.
As could be expected, there were all the major film industry vendors displaying the latest in camera, lenses, lighting and sound. But taking it a step further, Sim set up a series of tableaux featuring actors lit in various scenarios, with a camera pointed at each and a monitor attached to a portable colour grading suite for visitors to try their hand at colour correcting each scene. It was a much more interesting way to showcase the capabilities of the company’s available resources than simply having equipment on display.
“So the initial concept of the demos was primarily to focus on the cameras and some of the lensing we wanted to showcase,” says Marcus Valentin, a partner, and senior editor at Sim Post Toronto.
Planet in Focus Pre-Screener
Gesilayefa Azorbo is a Toronto-based writer, photographer and filmmaker. She has a deep interest in music, film, literature, and pop culture. She was born in Nigeria, grew up in Kenya, currently lives in Canada, and considers herself a Third Culture Kid. Her work explores themes related to music, creativity and identity.
“Anywhere from shallow focus, to anamorphic, to lenses that help out with lens flare, to one of the low light setups where we have the VariCam with an ISO cranked to 5000. In doing so, we figured that it’d be fun to showcase these cameras by having them film something interesting. So we went about creating these individual set pieces with models inside to kind of give it a little bit of life, the human touch.”
In one scenario, a young woman in a party dress dances enthusiastically under flashing lights and a disco ball, in another a young woman in a flowered dress revels in a garden oasis, while in the next, a cozy night in shows a woman curled up in front of a flickering TV with popcorn and a magazine. In yet another, the most elaborate set, a young man sits in a car speeding through a bustling city at night, his steely expression reflecting the lights of the city. It’s an illusion created by large LED panels beside, behind and in front of the stationary car, in a high-tech throwback to the rear projection of yesteryear.
It’s typically green screen and projections that are used on modern productions, I’m told by Alex Burt, the senior AV technician who set up the car scenario, but they went with the LED panels for the showcase, noting that advances in technology allow for minimal pixellation on the LED panels, which makes for an extremely realistic image on camera when it comes to post-production.
The aim for this year’s showcase, says Marc Bachli, a partner and senior colourist at Sim Group, was to show all the company’s divisions operating in a collaborative way.
“We’re showing lights and cameras. But we’re also showing the entire post process, from camera acquisition to dailies, to DIT and colour correction and online as well, which we can do in colour,” Bachli says.
“We’re hoping mainly to bring awareness with the new group that we have the tools, and we have the components to basically take somebody’s idea and carry that forward through the entire production pipeline and post pipeline, including sound and picture, and right up to delivering it to theatres. We also make broadcast deliverables. So the hope is really just to create awareness that we are a complete, single entity that can manufacture a complete product for a producer or client.”
Beyond the scope of filmmaker resources Sim Group has on offer, the company is also dedicated to putting environmental issues in sharp focus.
“Sim is committed to supporting the communities where our employees, clients and partners live and work. We’ve recently partnered with Creative BC and their Reel Green initiative, to reconfigure our carbon footprint,” says Lucy Kayumov, Manager, Marketing Operations at Sim Group.
“Directives to reduce, reuse, recycle have been in place, but our efforts to solidify our best practices keeps the future in sight. Together with Reel Green, we aim to prioritize education and commitment to creating a sustainable and healthy future for everyone.”
This commitment spreads across to the range of productions they work with, as well as their support of the Planet in Focus Environmental Film Festival. As Kayumov notes,
“Sim works with a multitude of productions, ranging from unscripted to scripted drama, live award shows, features, commercials as well as independent documentaries. We’re thrilled to be able to support the Planet in Focus Environmental Film Festival by giving filmmakers the opportunity to continue making films about environmental issues that affect us all.”