Life isn’t fair. — I can’t actually say that I wish someone told me this. My Mom and Dad told me this everyday growing up. My poor kids get this every time they complain about something not being fair. I know that in current times there is this push for ‘fairness’ in all things but I don’t know how that helps you get through life. I lost an award once for not expressing enough enthusiasm. I had the edge in expertise, the track record and the capacity. Did I think it was a fair decision? Not really. But it goes into the lesson learned bank. I missed what was important to the other party and lost. That is the fairness life has for you.
The COVID19 pandemic has disrupted all of our lives. But sometimes disruptions can be times of opportunity. Many people’s livelihoods have been hurt by the pandemic. But some saw this as an opportune time to take their lives in a new direction.
As a part of this series called “How I Was Able To Pivot To A New Exciting Opportunity Because Of The Pandemic”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Brett Ineson.
Brett Ineson is the President of Animatrik Film Design and an Executive Director of Shocap Entertainment. He is recognized as an expert in Virtual Production providing services to the digital Entertainment industry. Credits include: Xmen: Dark Phoenix, Avengers: Engame, Spiderman: Homecoming, Gears of War 5, Aquaman, Deadpool 2.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I grew up in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. I’m not sure if it was my parents’ master plan that I end up in animation but they introduced me to two things as a young child: cameras and computers. I had an 8mm stop motion camera that I would use to make animated movies of my drawings and the toys in my room. Computers were brand new at his time, but I was lucky that my dad had an interest in them, so not only did I have access to computers, but I was able to take computer programming lessons from day one. Cameras and computers became my hobbies. I was really fortunate that the Toronto area had so many resources for kids that had an interest in these things. My parents had sent me to a local college that had opened their film and television program to kids during the summer break. I was introduced to animation and broadcasting technology there. It was tons of fun and set me on a life path.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I grew up playing hockey. I remember Wayne Gretsky saying ‘You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take’. This has stuck with me throughout life. You can’t wait for an opportunity to line up perfectly. Sometimes you have to take your best shot and then go pick up the rebound when you miss.
Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
As a kid I loved J.R.R. Tolkien and his Lord of the Rings trilogy. They were an awesome read and a bit of an achievement to get through at a young age. Some stories just stick with you forever. When I had the opportunity to work on the Lord of Rings film, Return of the King, I couldn’t believe it. Gollum was already the most interesting character I had known and when you combine that with the fact that he was the first truly great computer animated character in all of film, I was beside myself. I am still wondering if I will ever have a chance to work again on a character as great as that.
Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before the Pandemic began?
I was already on quite the roller coaster before the pandemic hit. We had a tough year in 2018 at Animatrik, but then put our heads down to bring in our best year on record in 2019. Of course come March 2020 everything turned off. IIt’s funny when you consider that Virtual Production services is the business I have been in for 20
years. It has been a labour of love. More of a niche industry. After COVID hit, Virtual production became this gigantic buzz. All of the sudden Virtual Production was, in a way, considered the only form of production.
What did you do to pivot as a result of the Pandemic?
Our pivot was the incubation of a startup at Animatrik called Shocap Entertainment. Animatrik’s core business is tracking actors and cameras to integrate with computer graphics. With a downturn in our production services business, we were able to apply our skills, software and hardware to a new medium. Instead of real time visualization for behind the scenes work, we started to do this work directly to the audience. We produced a live-streamed XR show with Jazz singer Jill Barber in partnership with LiveNation and Tradable Bits. It was a great success and proved the effectiveness of mixed reality entertainment in a world requiring remote connectivity. We then went on to broadcast a similar show on the BBC for Christmas. This has greatly energized our main goal in which we are developing a live XR circus out of Montreal with artist collective The 7 Fingers.
Can you tell us about the specific “Aha moment” that gave you the idea to start this new path?
The ‘aha’ moment came out of a series of lunches I was having with my partner in Shocap Entertainment, Athomas Goldberg. We both have a long history in computer graphics and real time game production techniques. We collectively discovered that we loved live entertainment. It didn’t take long to agree that we were actually already doing live entertainment for a select few clients at time. We’re now putting our efforts into reaching an actual audience.
How are things going with this new initiative?
Things are going really great. Our live show with Jill Barber managed to get the attention of CBC’s The National going out to all of Canada, as well as an opportunity to be part of the UK’s BBC Click Christmas show where we produced the world’s first broadcasted XR Jazz performance which was broadcasted internationally to 400 million people.
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My dad, Douglas Ineson, was the one who encouraged computer science above all. Really it was computer science applied to art which has kept my interest all these years. He sent me to local computer training classes at such a young age, where we would learn to print “hello World’ infinitely. I was enrolled in computer science summer school at the high school even though I was in elementary school. I remember saving all my work on cassette tapes. At the time I thought it was super fun. Now that I think about it, I thought summer school was summer camp. Considering that I have built a whole life around this, I am pretty grateful that he recognized a potential opportunity for me.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?
I think one of my favourite things that has happened is having so many great conversations with musicians. I have had some great ongoing conversations with some of the world’s most legendary talents. The music industry was the first to be disrupted massively by the digital interactivity of the world. My outside interpretation is that the disruption has created a new musician persona. One that has to take more into their own hands. One that must diversify. For me it’s really fun to collaborate with such creative people.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my organization” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1. Failure is actually super helpful.
As a kid my experience with failure was mostly through hockey. My coach would always say ‘winning isn’t everything but losing sucks’. I’m not sure how much I actually learned from that but it’s funny to look back on. When you get into the business world you experience first hand the value of failure. I have lost a client to a technical error and I have lost a client due to error in judgement on my part. It greatly affects your short term income and your long term income potential. That kind of education is monumental. You better respect the lesson and you never forget it.
2. You can just walk away when it doesn’t feel right.
The entertainment business has some unique qualities. One is the projects you work on can be very high profile. It is not uncommon for a producer to ask you to take a loss on your work in exchange for the credit you will receive. Some producers trade on the potential marketing value of the project as currency. After trying this on for size in the early days I know now to walk away. You will not receive any benefit in the future. This relationship dies on the vine.
3. Trust People
Trusting people is my default. It doesn’t come without some downside. I give people a ton of rope when first engaging with them. When you meet a person that respects your trust and does the same in return, you have the foundation for a long term relationship without baggage. The best experience you can have in business.
4. If both parties are not a little bit angry at signing then you didn’t make a good deal. a. When you first get started in business you can have this incredible but immature energy. Success in not calibrated correctly. Every single dollar feels like risk. Every expense and every bit of income opportunity is pursued with blind vigor. With experience you learn that is the incorrect path. There are all kinds of bad things that can happen after a lop-sided deal is signed. Good business people find that perfect place where each party is just a little bit ticked off. One party can’t walk away laughing and the other party walks away crying.
5. Life isn’t fair.
I can’t actually say that I wish someone told me this. My Mom and Dad told me this everyday growing up. My poor kids get this every time they complain about something not being fair. I know that in current times there is this push for ‘fairness’ in all things but I don’t know how that helps you get through life. I lost an award once for not expressing enough enthusiasm. I had the edge in expertise, the track record and the capacity. Did I think it was a fair decision? Not really. But it goes into the lesson learned bank. I missed what was important to the other party and lost. That is the fairness life has for you.
So many of us have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. Can you share the strategies that you have used to optimize your mental wellness during this stressful period?
This is a good question! I wish I could say I don’t become anxious from today’s news cycle but I am. Many people around me have been doing the Wim Hoff method including my wife and two daughters. I hate cold water so rejected the idea pretty quickly. In a moment of desperation I relented, feeling I better try something or I’m just going to remain a ball of stress. Amazingly it really gave me great benefit. I still hate cold water, but I force myself because for me it works.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I would try to show people that they are a tremendous force within themselves and that they have everything in common with all people. Division is brutal on us. We are so easily led into a divisive formation. Our inherent tribal characteristics are exploited by groups that will not survive a united populous.
Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!
I am going to have to say Guy Laliberté, one of the founders of Cirque Du Soleil. Our XR production we are working on involves circus performance. He is the legend in that arena. He did amazing things. I would love to hear what he thinks of our computer science approach to live production.
How can our readers follow you online?
People can check out our websites, Animatrik.com and Shocap.com or social media, @Animatrik / @ShocapEntertainment, and if you’d like contact with me directly, I’m active on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/brettineson/