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A master craftsman behind the scenes: "Better Than Love" VFX Supervisor Gurvand Tanneau
Over the past 20 years French visual effects supervisor and senior flame artist Gurvand Tanneau has become an industry icon. His unparalleled work on films such as the Sarajevo Film Festival Award winning family drama "Lost in Africa" and the Golden Zenith nominated crime thriller "Ill Wind," as well as the popular Chicago TV series franchise, which includes the multi-award winning series "Chicago Fire," have placed Tanneau in a league of his own when it comes to the art of VFX.

Aside from his work on renowned films and TV series, Tanneau has worked as the VFX supervisor and senior flame artist on international and national commercials for major brands and companies such as Target, Geico, Apple, Best Buy, Acura, Puma, Gucci and numerous others. 

Renowned for his ability to refine and elevate the creative aspects of a project before the cameras even start rolling, Gurvand Tanneau is often called in to collaborate with production teams from the early concept stage where his skill has proven second to none. This aptitude, combined with an integral understanding of optical and digital workstreams and extensive experience in digital effects, stop-motion animation, motion graphic design, on-set practical effects and VFX supervision, provide an unmatched perspective in the industry.

One of Tanneau's latest works, the feature film "Better Than Love" directed by Ted Carney, is currently captivating audiences everywhere with its realism and heart-breaking poignancy. Based on a true story, the film revolves around the often romanticized opioid epidemic sweeping the nation, and hangs a much-needed lantern on the true depths and despairs of addiction. 

The powerful film, which premiered on Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood last month, stars Andrew Lawrence ("Hawaii Five-0," "Bean") as Jon, a 19 year old man who gets caught in a suburban ghetto riptide when his childhood friend is arrested for hustling drugs. With his friend now behind bars, Jon's morality challenges his loyalty as he steps up as the neighborhood new king pin. After getting into a serious accident, becoming immobile and in turn, losing the affection of his girlfriend AJ, who's played by Alexandra Rodriguez ("East Los High," "Hollywood Heights"), Jon soon finds himself at the mercy of a new love: Oxycontin. As his addiction and desperation intensify, Jon is left desperately trying to save everyone but himself. 

While cinematographer Jason Koenig and costume designer Anne Madden bring impressive and memorable touches to the film that can be seen easily by the average viewer, the behind-the-scenes work done by visual effects artist Gurvand Tanneau is the glue that holds the film together. 

"There were many instances when Gurvand helped propel our momentum by being an attentive purveyor of solutions. I was shooting a pursuit that required a bridge closure, and our police cruiser's lights were failing to illuminate on cue," recalls director Ted Carney.

"In the heat of the moment, both time and money were being burned, along with the patience of the crew. Gurvand assessed that he could build-in the police lights at a far lesser expense than that of postponing the scene while the uncertainty of on set repairs were attempted. In hindsight, by not having him with us would have been a potential disaster."

Often overlooked, relatively invisible additions like dust coming off a speeding car or tiny splashes of water dramatically add to the power and believability of a film, and Gurvand Tanneau is a pro at making those effects come off seamlessly on screen.

Not only can Tanneau's extensive contributions be seen, or rather 'not be seen,' in the final version of the production, but he greatly and positively impacts the film's preproduction as well. Working as a consultant during the writing process, Tanneau's expertise extends above and beyond that of others in his field. With Tanneau's valuable insight, writers Ted Carney and Tim Schaaf were able to write around potential production roadblocks, solving or stopping problems before they were even created. 

Tanneau's depth of knowledge and creativity is virtually inimitable as it stems from his unique combination of natural talent and a lifelong dedication to the craft. Tanneau directly saved the production of "Better Than Love" on location costs, noting issues like billboards in a shot and understanding that he could remove them in post instead of setting up an entirely new shot. 

"Working with Gurvand is one of the best parts of production. I get to be very hands-off as I trust his expertise completely. When he delivers his work, it's like Christmas morning," explains Schaff. 

"What makes Gurvand special, in particular for a micro-budget film, is the level of care and artistry he brings to the production. A lot of indie films are let down by VFX, where Gurvand takes the time to apply a very fine touch- so much so that no one who has watched the film has any idea that there are any VFX at all. His work integrates seamlessly into the film, and enhances the experience for the viewer as opposed to distracting by either being too much, or poorly implemented. Gurvand is more than a VFX artist, he is a trusted collaborator."

On set, a less experienced visual effects artist could easily get caught up in the moment, enticed by the thought of saving time on the back end of production, but Tanneau's extensive experience gave him the capacity to make a quick assessment of the location, budget and shot sequences and create a plan that was the most efficient for the production. His affinity for natural and believable effects were vital in locking in the tone of the film and delivering an important message to audiences across the globe. Massachusetts Senator Mark Montigny spoke eloquently and aptly when he called "Better than Love" "a brilliant film; a stunning wake up call."  

Gurvand Tanneau's judgment as a visual effects artist and supervisor is total perfection, not only in the film world, but in commercials as well. As a senior flame artist, Tanneau has worked on dozens of internationally broadcasted television commercials for countless companies ranging from Apple to Nestle to L'Oreal. 

A stunning example of Tanneau's pristine special effects capabilities can be seen in a recent, beautifully made Subaru commercial. The commercial focuses on a vehicle driving through a snow-capped mountain on a crisp, perfect winter's day. Tanneau's wealth of knowledge can be understood by looking at his range of work, and this piece in particular. 

In any commercial, an advertising company has mere seconds to not only communicate and sell a product but also to sell a lifestyle or an idea. Each and every frame in a commercial bares weight and significance, and can cost the advertiser hundreds of thousands of dollars. In the Subaru commercial, Tanneau excels at creating a rustic and rugged feel that is simultaneously sexy and sleek. The balance is extremely difficult to achieve. Through such mastery, Tanneau's ability to capture a feeling and tell a story in mere seconds with his work as a special effects artist has been critical to the Fortune 100 companies that propel our economy forward.

To a naked eye, it is almost impossible to detect Tanneau's work. His effects are seamless and believable, memorable and beautiful, stunning and captivating. He is an integral part behind some of the most powerful and successful films and television, blurring the line between reality and fiction, and the entertainment industry is lucky to have him. 

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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