Behind the Scenes: Internationally Celebrated VFX Supervisor and Flame Artist Gurvand Tanneau

Gurvand Tanneau
“Better Than Love” Director Ted Carney and VFX Supervisor Gurvand Tanneau (right)

Gurvand Tanneau has spent the past two decades setting the screen on fire with his highly acclaimed skills as a senior flame artist and VFX supervisor. Widely regarded as an accomplished post-production effects artist, he’s been tapped to lead VFX work for some of the biggest names in the business, such as Method, Moving Picture Company (MPC), EightVFX, Mikros Image Group, Mac Guff, Ntropic, and Logan. A clear reflection of his standing in the industry, Tanneau’s credits include VFX works for clients such as Apple, Audi, Adidas, Mercedes, Budweiser, Peugeot, Armani, L’Oreal, Toyota, Dodge,  and Coca Cola, to name just a few. 

Now working at the height of the industry, Tanneau recalls how he got started working in the industry back in 2001, “After working on some junior jobs at an editing company, I was given the opportunity to make some basic visual effects tests for an offline edit of a commercial. I had a great time doing them… They turned out to be a success and the producer liked my work enough to offer me a position at a visual effects company, Def2Shoot, to go further.”   

Tanneau’s talents have since been integral to the success of numerous advertising campaigns such as the Super Bowl commercials for Mercedes-Benz’s “The Science,” Anheuser-Busch’s “Buschhhh,” Acura’s “The Dark Horse” and Suzuki’s “Sled,” as well as commercials for Geico’s “The Giant,” “Spaceship” and “The Whale,” and Nissan’s “The Chase.” 

As the VFX supervisor on a production, Gurvand Tanneau is responsible for guiding the entire VFX team, ensuring the seamless continuity of the work and making the necessary changes when things fall short, which is a rare occurrence when he is the one behind the scenes. With his expertise in all aspects of special effects, Tanneau helps to make the impossible, possible. 

“I worked extensivly on a lot of commercials for the luxe industry, many of which have been high-end perfumes and cosmetic brands. The demand for quality is extremly high in this industry; the work must be seamless. It is a very rigorous environment with tight time timelines and where everything is judged by a standard of flawless perfection. Starting my career in that kind of environment has allowed me to develop an eye and sensibility for projects that depend on the aesthetic of an image,” explains Tanneau.

In addition to his contributions to the field of marketing and advertising, Gurvand Tanneau has also been a key VFX artist and supervisor on hit television series including “Chicago Fire,” and has contributed to Top 40 music videos with celebrities like Janet Jackson, in her 2016 “Dammn Baby” video, which has over 9 million views on YouTube. He has also worked on cutting-edge films such as the thriller “lll Wind” directed by Stephane Allagon, the dramatic film “La Pirogue” directed by Morussa Toure and the dramatic comedy “Odette Toulemonde” starring Catherine Frott and Albert Dupontel.

Born in Brittany, France, Tanneau realized his passion for visual effects at the age of 12 after discovering he could manipulate chemicals to produce certain effects that he could then introduce into films. He has been living and working in Los Angeles for the past six years, where he is represented by Digital Artists Agency. By the time he was 21, he moved to Paris to pursue a career in film production. It was there that he began to make a name for himself working on commercials for BMW led by MPC London, Schweppes led by NOZON Brussels, and H&M campaigns created by CHIMNEY Stockholm. 

Tanneau recalls, “While In Paris I was working essentially on beauty commercials, including cosmetics, perfumes, and fashion.” 

While in Paris, in 2004, Tanneau ventured out as the animator and visual effects flame artist for the popular cartoon “Obras” directed by Hendrick Dusollier (“A Day in the Life of a Dictator”), which earned numerous awards including those from the Aubagne International Film Festival, the Dresden Film Festival and the Lutins du Court-Metrage, as well as nominations from the Cesar Awards and the Lyon Festival of New Generation Cinema. He was also a key member of the visual effects team on the 2010 Guldbagge Award nominated biographical film “Cornelius.” 

Six years ago, Tanneau was brought to Los Angeles where he has since been represented by the Digital Artists Agency, to further develop his skills and provide specialized VFX support to major U.S. and global brands. When working on a project, Tanneau’s involvement begins in the early concept planning stages where he lends his expertise to developing the creative elements that are designed to captivate and intrigue audiences. From proposing artistic direction and determining which technology would be the most effective, his role is both creative and technical. He meticulously follows through the entire process, collaborating with the post production teams to implement the stunning effects that ultimately enthrall viewers. Tanneau attributes his success, in part, to those who he has learned from.  

Tanneau explains, “Having a background in photography and having been surrounded by artists most of my life has allowed me to cultivate a strong aesthetic and critical eye for images. I have been very fortunate to learn from and work closely with many talented artists who have come from photography, particularly fashion photography. The work I do is very similar, particularly when considering the light in a scene. Except in my work, that light is moving, and I can use that light to enhance the details of the form and quality of materials.”

The special effects graphics expert brings 20 years of experience to the table.  He has the uncanny ability to apply his knowledge and skills in a seemingly effortless fashion in a way that brings magic to life on the screen. His optical and digital work-streams are inspiring, along with his superior experience in specialized areas as stop-motion, motion graphic design, on-set practical effects, and VFX supervision that are simply phenomenal. 

With a dazzling portfolio that proves he is both dynamic and exceptionally talented, Tanneau has been tapped to work as a VFX supervisor and specialized flame artist on a wide variety of production in countries such as England, Sweden, Italy, Belgium, Spain, Australia, Czech Republic, and Russia. In 2016 Tanneau was VFX supervisor on the indie movie “Better than Love” directed by Ted Carney, starring Andrew Lawrence (“Bean,” “Bones”), Alexandra Rodriquez (“The X Factor,” “East Los High”) and Matthew Lawrence (“Mrs. Doubtfire”).

Tanneau’s work in the world of visual effects ranges from the highly technical creative design of graphic visuals like the ones seen in the L’Oreal commercial below, to integral changes to live action film footage, such as removing elements that cannot be seen in the final product, and much more.

For “Better than Love” Tanneau had the heft task of removing a number of things present in the live captures.  

“On set we found out there would be things to erase from the picture, like billboards for example. Or we would need to change or remove names and images from things like posters, mailboxes, and TV screens. Removing these in post helps to ensure continuity and is often more efficient due to the cost and time it often takes during the live capture,” explains Tanneau. 

All of Tanneau’s work comes down to serving the storyline, and without his work, many of these projects would not only cost the production exorbitant amounts of money, but some of them may never see the light of day.

Tanneau’s unabridged combination of experience, knowledge and talent in the visual effects industry make him a leading artist that is sought after by the biggest names in the business and judging from his popularity, it doesn’t appear the fire will be dying down anytime soon.

 

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