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Vancouver A Hotspot For Fantasy and Sci-Fi Film

Rise of the Planet of the Apes was partly filmed in Vancouver

 

Super, Natural British Columbia. As a filming destination, we could easily lose the comma in our provincial slogan. As the unofficial ‘Hollywood North’, Vancouver draws in a huge number of sci-fi and fantasy productions, and has hosted everything from major blockbusters and prolific television series, to cult classics with rabid fanbases.

There are several major productions slated to shoot here in the upcoming year, including Star Trek 3, Tron 3 and the newest addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Deadpool.

Here are five reasons why Vancouver is the absolute perfect location to shoot sci-fi and fantasy:

 

 

1. ONE STOP VFX SHOPPING 

 

An increasing number of productions that shoot here are opting to work with local VFX production houses to fulfill all their lens-flared-space-battle needs. Lucasfilm’s Industrial Light and Magic even opened up a permanent 30,000-square foot studio downtown last spring.

 

Here are some of the notable studios, and the locally shot productions they worked on. Keep in mind some of their credits overlap as production companies spread bigger design jobs to multiple companies.

 

Artifex Studios has provided visual effects for several series that were shot here, including Continuum (Showcase), Almost Human (Fox) and Red Riding Hood (Warner Bros).

 

Zoic Studios is the production house responsible for developing the special effects for Battlestar Galactica (Syfy) as well as Arrow (The CW) and Once Upon A Time (ABC).

 

The Embassy Visual Effects received an Academy Award nomination on their work on District 9 (Tristar Pictures) and have continued to work with director Neill Blomkamp as he moved his productions to Vancouver, and developed the visual effects of the weapons in Elysium (TriStar Pictures).

 

Image Engine has an incredible reel of past feature work, including acting as the main VFX team behind Elysium (TriStar Pictures), Watchmen (Warner Bros) and X-Men Origins: Wolverine (20th Century Fox).

 

 

2. LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION 

 

Vancouver is widely known for its rain soaked old-growth forests, but it’s just as easy to find rocky beaches, snowy mountains and, if you drive out a little further to the east, sandy deserts. The incredible visual diversity of our city is one reason that crews have been flocking here to film projects, ever since The X-Files proved that it could double for pretty much any location in the United States.

 

The range of climate zones in British Columbia is so extensive that it has been an indispensable resource to television shows that need to cheat locations from around the world, or for any production company that doesn’t have the budget to shoot in several different countries.

 

 

3. CITY OF GLASS 

 

Vancouver is one of the youngest cities in North America, and the futuristic architecture rising out of our downtown core is positively built for a sci-fi setting. It isn’t difficult to imagine a prospective director standing on a corner in Coal Harbour and feverishly quoting JJ Abram’s Super 8: “Production value!”

 

It doesn’t hurt that only a few blocks away the cobblestoned streets of Gastown can easily be transformed into a charming heritage scene, or the deserted remnants of a post-apocalyptic future (and it has!).

 

 

4. MILD CLIMATE 

 

For year round shooting, Vancouver can’t be beat. Warm summers, mild winters – and if you’re shooting a sci-fi or fantasy project the constant rain will just add to the mood of your production.

 

 

5. TRIED AND TRUE

 

Vancouver has been home to dozens of fantastic projects, and continues to be the ideal shooting location for creative and ambitious production teams.

 

Here are just a few of the television series and films that have used Vancouver as a location:

 

FILMS:

Tron: Legacy, The Cabin in the Woods, I, Robot, Fantastic Four, Watchmen, The NeverEnding Story, The Twilight Saga, Rise of Planet of the Apes, X Men: The Last Stand, Elysium, Man of Steel, Godzilla

 

TV SERIES:

Supernatural, The X-Files, Battlestar Galactica, Fringe, Once Upon A Time, Arrow, Eureka, Smallville, The Vampire Diaries, Continuum, The Stargate Series, Dark Angel, Caprica, Taken, Dead Like Me, Highlander, The Flash, The Outer Limits, The 100.

Shooting in Vancouver: A Cinematographer’s Guide

Vancouver is a premier location for shooting film and TV. But what artistic edge does it have over other major cities? Here are 5 factors that differentiate shooting in Vancouver.

1. Vancouver’s higher latitude means extended daytime shooting hours during summer–­ a huge boon for productions shooting on a tight timeline. During peak filming season, Vancouver gets up to 16 hours of daylight, two hours more than Los Angeles, yet avoids the southern California heat during summer.

2. With softer light, ideal lighting ratios and a warmer colour, the “golden” or “magic” hour after sunrise and before sunset is often the best time to shoot. In any given season, the sun in Vancouver remains lower on the horizon than in most US cities, giving Vancouver a magic hour that is actually way longer than one hour, and often spectacular for more than two.

3. Vancouver often has a thick cloud cover that diffuses light. Harsh sunlight pouring above your subjects is complicated to control and a sky sprinkled with clouds is a nightmare due to constantly changing light. Cloudy grey skies make for constant lighting conditions and a much easier shoot.

4. Although Vancouverites love to complain about it, rain isn’t always a bad thing. Our mild winters and lack of snow allow for a nearly year-round shooting window. Although uncomfortable to hold a shoot in the rain, it often doesn’t read on camera and can easily look moody, arty, and unlike anything that LA can offer.

5. Compared to popular American film locations, Vancouver’s air pollution is low. Cleaner air means a larger spectrum of unfiltered sunlight. In places with heavy pollution, sunlight may come pre­filtered and muted, negating much of its artistic usefulness. The lack of pollution during sunrise or sunset provides a gorgeous broad spectrum in Vancouver­ and exquisite backdrops.

Written by Freddie Kim