In 1996, Mark Bénard began his career as an independent visual effects (VFX) artist in Vancouver’s newly developing industry. News of his innovative and pioneering work attracted the attention of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Digital Studios. Together they created the internationally acclaimed Lost Boys Studios – one of Canada’s top 3D animation and visual effects boutiques. While operating Lost Boys Studios, Bénard was known for his hands on approach to management, working alongside his team as a Visual Effects Supervisor, Producer and Artist on hundreds of award-winning film, television, game cinematic and commercial productions.
After 10 years of running an award-winning studio, Bénard transitioned the business towards visual effects training. A direction chosen after noticing the failure of standard education models in producing job ready VFX artists. Traditionally, young artists would compete for limited studio entry level positions, slowly mastering their craft over several years under the guidance of senior artists. Bénard developed a curriculum that embraced mentor driven project based learning carefully designed to reduce the lengthy development time down to one year. This method produced an accelerated pathway to grasping the complex skill requirements of VFX Production and have resulted in his graduates enjoying an unprecedented 98% placement rate.