Squamish-owned company nominated for a Leo award

CVD VFX vying for a win in best visual effects for a feature film

Floating knives, cars and even an array of thousands of mirrors pointing towards celestial beings — all this came to life thanks to a locally-owned video effects company.

The work has been impressive enough get Squamish resident Chris Van Dyck and his company CVD VFX a nomination at the Leo Awards, which celebrate the talent behind B.C. films.

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Van Dyck's company will be competing for the top spot in the category of best visual effects for a feature film. If they manage to snag the award this time, it would be for the fourth consecutive year in a row.

The movie centres on a girl who acquires special powers after contacting a UFO.

It was a theme that gave Van Dyck and his company a lot of chances to play around with visual effects.

"There's some powers of levitation and some energy surging and things like that," he said.

"They'll be filming things on wires, like, they'll lift up a truck with a crane and we'll basically remove the items or animate them to move a certain way."

Perhaps the video effects company's biggest task was to digitally recreate a real-life 300,000-mirror solar facility in the Mojave Desert.

To do so, Van Dyck and his crew travelled to the Ivanpah Solar Facility to survey the area.

Later, after replicating the mirror field with video effects, CVD VFX took them through some complex gymnastics.

"We were able to do close-up shots of the mirrors animating and moving around. And then we were also able to do these wide overheads, really cool kind of helicopter shots of the mirror field," said Van Dyck.

"Imagine like [300,000] mirrors all animating in unison."

Furthermore, each of those mirrors was animated to reflect fractal patterns while UFO orbs were controlling their movements.

"I think the highlight was having the orbs coming from space, landing in and amongst us, and then controlling the mirrors and then shooting back up into space," Van Dyck said.

Van Dyck is no stranger to working in show business.

Prior to starting up CVD VFX, he worked on a number of major projects such as Iron Man, Thor, The Hobbit and Harry Potter.

He also got a crack at running video effects for what's arguably the biggest TV series out right now.

"It was great — I worked on Game of Thrones, got to kill a bunch of people I didn't like on the show," he said.

However, frequent travelling and the difficulty of maintaining a solid work-life balance drove Van Dyck to make his own rules.

Eventually, he decided to settle down and open up his own shop in North Vancouver.

In the long run, he said he hopes to introduce video effects to Squamish and educate locals about how that industry can be a viable career like any other.

He might bring a studio or education initiatives about video effects to town, he said.

"It's not only just reserved for the people that are filmmakers or storytellers," Van Dyck said.

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