The New Collaborators: Alter Ego

The post shop's full-service offering delivers ambitious briefs on budget
When Canadian Tire set out to create a dreamy winter wonderland for its winsome, heartwarming Christmas tale, there was only one problem: they were shooting in August. Alter Ego was tapped to bring the storybook world to life – and to add a lot of snow.

When Canadian Tire set out to create a dreamy winter wonderland for its winsome, heartwarming Christmas tale, there was only one problem: they were shooting in August. Alter Ego was tapped to bring the storybook world to life – and to add a lot of snow.

Growth strategies vary from company to company. Some race to keep up with client demand while others pivot into completely new waters. For Toronto’s Alter Ego, the trajectory from colour-grading shop to one of Canada’s preeminent full-service post-production companies can be summed up with one simple principle: if you build it, they will come.

Since 2007, when the company established itself as the first to bring non-linear grading to the Canadian commercial market, it has grown from 14 employees to 45 and now boasts five colouring suites, five finishing suites, plus compositing, CG and motion-graphics capabilities.

“When we started Alter Ego, we became known as tech leaders in colour grading,” says executive producer and partner Greg Edgar. “A few years later we wanted to get into bigger and better visual effects. Even though we weren’t known for it, we invested in the tech and space and talent to drive that forward. We’ve always had this mentality that if we do the best work we can, that will bring more great work.”

This investment – and leap of faith – has resulted in an exceptional client experience. By focusing on developing an efficient workflow and a collaborative culture, Alter Ego can move shots seamlessly from the colour suite to Flame VFX to CG with ease. “If clients are sitting in a VFX suite and want to make a change on colour, they can do it on the spot,” Edgar says. The company can also livestream sessions, making it easy for teams to collaborate on a job no matter where they are.

Because agencies increasingly have in-house departments that can handle smaller post work, Edgar says the company is seeing projects that are larger in scope and have more visual effects.

What hasn’t changed, though, is the need to make the most of budgets on a tight timeline.

“Most clients come to us with an idea and a budget and ask us to figure out how to make it happen,” Edgar says. “Generally, the idea is bigger than the budget, which is why we encourage people to bring us in early in the process. In cases like that we can be creative problem-solvers and offer solutions up front that save time and money.”

Alter Ego delivered on an ambitious extraterrestrial brief for AFPM. In “Space Playground,” the company created a vibrant spacescape in which a trio of astronauts engage in a gravity-altered game of frisbee.

Alter Ego delivered on an ambitious extraterrestrial brief for AFPM. In “Space Playground,” the company created a vibrant spacescape in which a trio of astronauts engage in a gravity-altered game of frisbee.

That’s how Alter Ego helped Canadian Tire create a storybook winter wonderland in August. Working closely with director Pekka Hara during pre-production, the team created pre-visualization complete with camera moves and landscape references, as well as full CG shots and compositing.

It’s also how a trio of astronauts engaged in a light game of frisbee in space in an AFPM commercial.

Beyond commercial work, Alter Ego has worked on films including Mad Max: Fury Road and The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part.

As the company has grown, Edgar says Alter Ego has retained its boutique feeling, something he owes to an environment that encourages teamwork and nurtures its talent.

“We have a great team that’s very collaborative both internally and externally,” he says. “Our people love to be creative and get their hands on projects and add something to it. I feel like that’s what separates us from competitors.”

CONTACT:
Greg Edgar
Executive Producer / Partner
greg.edgar@alteregopost.com