Rodeo FX founder and CEO Sébastien Moreau talks about his journey and new Canadian studio

Rodeo FX opens its third Canadian studio in Toronto’s Liberty Village starting with an on-site team of 60 people joining the global team of 800, consolidating the studio’s stature as one of the largest independent visual effects studios. The studio is known for projects like The Little Mermaid (2023), Netflix’s Stranger Things, and Apple TV’s Foundation season 2

“This new office will start with a team of 60 talented artists, led by a dynamic duo of VFX experts – VFX supervisor Mai-Ling Dydo and VFX producer Lara Osland. This office, located in Liberty Village will offer a meeting ground for our teams still working in a hybrid model to gather and collaborate. Rodeo has a long history of collaboration with Toronto, it’s really important for us to finally open an office there and strengthen our relationship with local talent and industry,” Rodeo FX founder and CEO Sébastien Moreau told Animation Xpress in an email interview.

Former VFX supervisor at Mr. X, Mai-Ling Dydo started as a CG artist before turning to supervision. She notably worked on several blockbuster shows like Penny Dreadful, American Gods, Foundation, and Raised by Wolves, where she got the chance to collaborate with VFX visionary Ridley Scott’s team. As a VFX supervisor on multiple-season award-winning shows, Dydo brings key knowledge on how to develop a strong pipeline, something crucial as Rodeo deepens long-term relationships with studios.

“I just love movies and shows. This is my core. Translating the client’s vision onto the screen then building a narrative that unfolds over a year is such an incredible feeling. This requires a tight, creatively driven team which is what I’ve found at Rodeo,” Dydo said in an official statement.  

Another Mr. X alumnus Lara Osland started in public relations before moving into production, where she combined her artistic curiosity with sharp management skills. Shifting from artist to manager, she quickly learned how to anticipate client needs on high-end projects such as Pacific Rim, The Boys, Midnight Mass and most recently Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness.

“It’s awesome to be part of this new chapter for Rodeo. Mai-Ling and I were lucky to collaborate before, and we’ve always seen Rodeo as a special studio. Now we have the chance to bring this culture and legacy to Toronto and push the creativity here to new heights,” said Osland.

Recently awarded the Employer of the Year award at the 2022 Mercuriades, Rodeo FX offers a flexible hybrid model to all its employees and will continue using its official offices as hubs for collaboration and creativity.

Talking about the organisation’s 16-year long journey, the founder said, “I started out as an artist more than 25 years ago, becoming an expert in Flame and Inferno at the world’s top studios, including ILM and Weta Digital- having this type of experience early pushed me to be excellent. But after living abroad for many years, I returned home to Montreal in 2006 to start Rodeo FX with a vision of my own. I’ve always been driven by a passion to achieve the artistic edge of visual effects and it’s why I started my own company, to be able to compete as one of the best in the industry and offer other passionate artists an inspiring work environment where they can grow. It’s always my goal to allow them to use their skills and creativity to deliver shots with unquestionable reliability and world-class quality and offer local talent the chance to work on the best of VFX.”

For him, it is an immense matter of pride that Rodeo is now an international creative company working with the biggest storytellers in Hollywood like Netflix, Disney, Marvel, Warner Bros., Apple, HBO, etc. with multiple Emmy and VES awards. Rodeo FX grabbed international attention with the first Academy Award win in 2008 for their project The Golden Compass (2007) which was an incredible achievement for their team that really pushed them to new heights. 

Sharing about how they fared during the pandemic, Moreau said, “Like a lot of other players in the industry, the pandemic asked us to rethink our organization, while also creating a huge increase in demand. Today, we are busier than ever and are able to work on high-profile projects across all our different divisions, finalizing projects such as Stranger Things 4 or Halo or an ad for Holt Renfrew while still working from home and from our offices. At Rodeo, we always lead with creativity. And that is something the pandemic didn’t change. This is why we are always delivering the same high quality, no matter the circumstances.”

The VFX expert believes that the scope of work and the demand have drastically changed because of these huge players (OTT giants like Netflix, Amazon,Disney+ and so on). 

“Just a year ago, we were delivering four Marvel projects at the same time and earned multiple Emmy nominations for WandaVision and Falcon and the Winter Soldier and then an Academy Award nomination for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings — that just demonstrates the level and quality we’re rising to at the moment. Working on shows, like Wandavision or The Witcher also changes the way we approach our VFX pipeline because when working on a film, you have one beginning, one end and usually, one delivery date,” Moreau said.

He further added, “When you’re working on multiple episodes, the time is crunched and you’re working with a huge variety of storylines, almost like making short movies.”

Rodeo FX is currently working on several amazing projects, like Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Apple’s Sci-Fi hit Foundation, Season 2 and two of Netflix’s new shows: Resident Evil and The Sandman

“At the same time, we are also expanding our ‘Animation Division’ with original stories finally coming out after several years of honing the concept and crafting the film, so we are really excited to begin this new chapter of Rodeo’s history with the support of our new Toronto team,” Moreau signed off.