January 30, 2023

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McGuff’s Philip Sonnier talks upcoming VFX projects for Netflix, Disney+, Amazon

3 min read

VFX powerhouse McGough is using its proprietary tool Face Engine and the new Face Creative Engine, in combination with traditional CGI, on a number of French and international projects for streamers and French broadcasters.

France is one of the world’s biggest VFX hubs, benefiting from its TRIP scheme, which enables foreign shoots to receive a 40% cash rebate on all eligible costs – including live action costs that are not VFX related – for international projects whose VFX costs are incurred in France. has exceeded €2 million ($2.16 million).

McGuff co-founder and co-director Philippe Sonnier said the studio is seeing increasing demand from streamers. The studio has 70 employees, but plans to expand to around 120 in 2023 due to growing demand.

For Netflix, McGough is providing VFX work on three series, including Season 3 of “Lupine,” having worked on Seasons 1 and 2. “Wonderman” is about the life of French emperor Bernard Tapie, where the studio uses de-aging tools. Produced by Anna Winger and Camille McCurry at Airlift Productions and Line produced by Cactus Films, “Transatlantic” is inspired by the true story set in 1940 Marseille of the Emergency Rescue Committee, which helped refugees escape Nazi persecution.

For Disney+, the studio is working on VFX for Maui Entertainment’s French original series “Tout va bien,” which will be co-directed and co-produced by “The Bureau” creator and showrunner Eric Rochant. It is about a dysfunctional Parisian family faced with the tragic illness of one of their children. The face engine was used to show the effects of cancer on a daughter who undergoes intensive treatment and loses her hair. Sonariar explained that it was possible to achieve all the effects without make-up, which made the production faster and more realistic.

Another Disney+ project with McGuff’s VFX is the environmental thriller “ZAD (Zone to Defend)”, directed by Romain Cogitore and produced by Nicolas Dumont and Hugo Célignac for Chi-Fou-Me Productions (“BAC Nord”).

For Amazon Prime Video, McGough is providing VFX on the comedy series, “Alphonse,” by Nicholas Beddoes, who previously worked at the studio on “Masquerade,” starring Isabelle Adjani. The series is produced by Alain Goldman (“La Vie en Rose”) and Banijay.

The studio, in a 50/50 partnership with MPC, is providing extensive CGI work for the film Nord Ouest on hybrid animals from Thomas Calley’s “Le règne animal,” about a father and son living in a world where some humans have begun to mutate into other animal species. CGI is used to create characters such as bird-men and bear-men.

This will be the second feature film for Kylie, whose “Love at First Fight” premiered at the 2014 Cannes Directors’ Fortnight and won the Louis DeLuc Award, Best First Film Lumiere and Best Actress and Best New Hope Awards. In 2015 Caesar.

McGough’s proprietary AI tools are overseen by co-founder and co-director Rodolphe Chabrier and McGough’s veteran VFX supervisor Marshall Valanchon.

Projects like “Hotel du Temps,” for which new episodes are underway, and “Masquerade” have used face engines to age actors and bring characters to life.

The new tool – the Face Creative Engine – is based on deep learning, enabling the studio to go further by realistically blending the faces of two characters.

The tool will be used in Michael Yun’s upcoming comedy “BDE,” about a “no limit” weekend in the Alps between forty-somethings and millennials, which will be released on Prime Video in 2023.

McGough is also producing the VFX work for the documentary “Corridor of Power” produced by Dor Moreh, in which it recreates the Oval Office with recent US presidents, and the French-Chinese co-production “The Last Secret of Humanity”, a docu-fiction. By 10.7 film set in prehistoric China.

Sonaria is also co-president of the lobbying association FranceVFX, created in 2017, which represents 12 studios: McGough, BUF, Digital District, Micros Image, Trimaran, Solidanim, The Yard, Autre Chose, Les Androids Association, Riposte, La Plantage. and D-seeds.

He says maintaining the 40% TRIP cash rebate scheme is essential to ensure the continuity of current VFX work in France.

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