Using visual effects to create big budget films on an "I Love Lucy" budget The viability of Canada’s film industry depend on its willingness to exploit new digital technologies, according to the chief scientist at visual effects giant Alias/Wavefront, Toronto. Speaking to delegates at an annual new media conference in Victoria BC Feb. 12, Bill Buxton said special effects are making it possible to significantly drive down the cost of film budgets, and that would make Canada an even more attractive place to do business. He suggested that the Canadian film industry will leave Canada when the dollar reaches 85 cents U.S. "How do we expect to keep them here when it reaches $1.25 (US)," he asked. The answer? Using high-end computer graphics technology to achieve "Ben Hur production values on an I Love Lucy budget." "Visual effects technology will fundamentally change how films are made," he told delegates. "More money can be spent on the screen than in the production." By combining a still photo with Quicktime video, for example, Buxton said a filmmaker can create the illusion of being on location. He can dolly, track and zoom, or even add lighting, to turn a 2D image into a 3D environment. "Using a 35 mm with great production values and a good story, you can likely get a film funded for less than the cost of a new car." Replacing hundreds of extras in a film with digital clones may not sit well with actors’ guilds, but Buxton defends the practice. "You’re not replacing actors because you’re talking about a film that wouldn’t have been made otherwise."