learned in school In­ter­view Toronto-based Emmy nominees on what they

Two Toronto-based Emmy nominees talk shop

NOW Magazine - - CONTENTS - By KELLY BOUTSALIS news@now­toronto.com | @Kel­lyKaliopi

When this year’s Emmy nom­i­na­tions were an­nounced, sev­eral Cana­di­ans were among the names in the tech­ni­cal cat­e­gories.

Among them are Kelly Knauff, a pro­duc­tion co­or­di­na­tor at Mav­er­icks VFX, who is part of the team nom­i­nated for spe­cial vis­ual ef­fects in a sup­port­ing role for their work on The Hand­maid’s Tale; and Tyler Whitham from Sound Dogs, who scored a nod in the out­stand­ing sound edit­ing for a limited series, movie or spe­cial cat­e­gory for Fargo. NOW spoke with both about their ca­reer tra­jec­to­ries, and what they learned in school.

The Cre­ative Arts Emmy Awards will be given out in Los An­ge­les on Septem­ber 9 and 10, and the 69th Prime­time Emmy Awards will be broad­cast on CTV on Septem­ber 17.


I’m a pro­duc­tion co­or­di­na­tor at Mav­er­icks VFX. My job is to keep the com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween us and our clients and get what they want out of the artist and send it back. I fa­cil­i­tate artist re­quests and pro­duc­tion re­quests, send shots out for ap­proval, send files to where they need to be, give notes to artists and that sort of thing. I’m there to make sure peo­ple have what they need on the in­ter­nal artist side and the client side.

For The Hand­maid’s Tale, we do a lot of ef­fects that aren’t overly no­tice­able. In the episode we were nom­i­nated for, there was a CG church we added that wasn’t re­ally there. The sup­port­ing vis­ual ef­fects is about that sort of stuff – not like a dragon. It’s more sub­tle.

I grad­u­ated from Con­fed­er­a­tion Col­lege’s mul­ti­me­dia pro­duc­tion pro­gram in 2004. The cour­ses cov­ered all as­pects of me­dia, so any­thing from an­i­ma­tion, pho­tog­ra­phy, web de­sign, web pro­gram­ming and pro­duc­tion.

In school we cre­ated ev­ery­thing from scratch, from start to fin­ish. All of that plan­ning stage in­formed what I do now, with pro­duc­tion man­age­ment. The idea was to give you a taste of many dif­fer­ent things.

Con­fed­er­a­tion Col­lege is in Thun­der Bay, which is pretty far away and dis­con­nected from the pro­duc­tion com­mu­nity in Toronto, so the biggest ben­e­fit was the in­tern­ship at the end of pro­gram. You worked at a com­pany nine-to-five for four months. It got my foot in the door at a com­pany I in­terned at, Red Rover Stu­dios. Af­ter my in­tern­ship I ended up work­ing there for about a year and a half.

The in­tern­ship gave me the op­por­tu­nity to go into a stu­dio, show them what I could do, that I could do it, and it led to a job, and an­other job, and an­other job. With­out that I wouldn’t have had any con­nec­tions. With­out any cred­its, you don’t get work.

In school, an­i­ma­tion was prob­a­bly my favourite class and that got me in­ter­ested in work­ing in an an­i­ma­tion stu­dio, which is where I started my ca­reer. I slowly phased into the man­age­ment side of VFX.

Be­ing nom­i­nated for an Emmy is a pretty in­cred­i­ble feel­ing and com­pletely un­ex­pected. I’ve worked on a lot of projects, and you don’t ex­pect any­thing like this.


Igrad­u­ated in 2006 from Sheri­dan Col­lege’s Me­dia Arts Film and Television pro­gram. Right af­ter the hol­i­day break in 2006 I started an in­tern­ship with Sound Dogs. I stuck around as a ju­nior as­sis­tant for quite a while be­fore started as­sist­ing. I’m now a sound ef­fects ed­i­tor, which means I put in the sound ef­fects – back­ground sounds, at­mos­phere like birds, winds, traf­fic, as well as any­thing on­screen, like guns weapons and com­bat.

There are a num­ber of peo­ple I work with now who are also grad­u­ates of Sheri­dan. We have a weird cir­cle of col­leagues and we had the same teach­ers and projects. The pro­gram was fairly hands-on and prac­ti­cal so when I fin­ished, the “real in­dus­try” wasn’t far off from what they were ready­ing us for. I’d get ques­tions like, “Do you know this tech­ni­cal as­pect?” and most of the time I had an­swers for it.

A lot of the time, we were us­ing in­dus­try-lead­ing soft­ware and equip­ment, so when we grad­u­ated, we were fairly well-versed in a lot of the soft­ware and able to just jump in as an as­sis­tant or in­tern.

I got some re­ally valu­able ad­vice at Sheri­dan: not to come out [think­ing you’re] a top-level sound de­signer. That can be ap­plied to most in­dus­tries, with peo­ple try­ing to get their foot in the door. I learned to be reli­able and solid with the ba­sics as an as­sis­tant, and that moulded me into be­ing an ed­i­tor down the road. I’ve cer­tainly en­coun­tered as­sis­tants and in­terns over the years who ap­ply as sound de­sign­ers

Know the tech­ni­cal stuff, be open-minded and stick with the du­ties that aren’t so glam­orous and the other good stuff will come with time.

Af­ter years of be­ing men­tored and sit­ting in with other peo­ple who have amaz­ing cred­its un­der their belt, even­tu­ally you get a phone call say­ing, “Hey, do you want to work on Fargo?”

I was the sound ef­fects ed­i­tor on Fargo. There were three of us, Alex Bul­lick, Rob Ber­tola and my­self, who all shared the same role and work­load. It was a very tight turnaround this sea­son so we needed to bring in more fire­power. Usu­ally we’re the peo­ple qui­etly work­ing away in our edit­ing suites, so to be brought to light at the Em­mys is ex­cep­tion­ally ex­cit­ing.



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