Being a Senior AI Researcher in Montreal

With Martine Bertrand

“Collaborating with creative individuals and the fact that together, we invent new ways to (…) keep dazzling our audiences. Really, that’s what motivates me.”


Martine Bertrand joined DNEG’s Technology team in Montreal in early 2022 as a Senior AI Researcher. With a PhD in computational biological physics, Martine worked in a variety of industries before taking her first steps in the world of VFX. So how does a physicist end up working for a VFX house, you ask? Keep on reading to hear about her journey from her PhD to VFX technology, what she does as a Senior AI Researcher, and more.

Hi Martine! What brought you into the world of VFX? 

So I’m actually a physicist. I got my PhD in computational biological physics. I specialized in the simulation of biological materials like polymers, such as DNA or biological membranes, which are essentially all these beautiful interfaces between what’s inside and what’s outside of your cells. Then I went into machine learning, doing natural language processing first before migrating to medical imaging, which was mostly computer vision applied to medical images.

Jumping ahead a bit, I was hired by an amazing tech company called Sama as a Tech Lead in AI. There, a colleague and I built the entire machine learning team from the ground up. All the while I was teaching physics to VFX artists at the NAD, a local university, because I love teaching! Throughout all this I met lots of people – we started having discussions about AI and VFX, which led to me to get involved in the organization of an AI symposium with the BCTQ. That went really well and I was asked to moderate another upcoming panel at a conference on VFX and Tech. Long story short,  Roy C Anthony – our Head of Global Research at DNEG – happened to be a speaker on the panel I was moderating. We wanted to further discuss after the talk… and now here I am at DNEG!

What is your day-to-day like as a Senior AI Researcher?

We’re really in the early stages of building the machine learning team. Right now we’re specifically focusing our efforts on 4D capture and everything that pertains to creating a digital double. So we’re researching ways to automate portions of the entire pipeline, that ends up creating a digital double of an actor.

What do you like most about your job?

Collaborating with creative individuals and the fact that together, we invent new ways to create visual effects using the tools that we have, all so we can keep dazzling our audiences. Really, that’s what motivates me.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to pursue a career in the industry?

There are plenty of events where people can showcase their work and meet other like-minded individuals. The way I entered this industry, and joined DNEG, is by meeting people. Seriously, that’s how most of the time I ended up in interesting roles. It was because I was out there, and I met all those amazing individuals. It’s all about networking. If you’re interested in VFX, be aware of the events happening in your community, and seize opportunities when they present themselves.

Time for some rapid fire questions – What’s your ‘special power’ at work? 

I would say, an uncanny ability to see the grand, the greater picture and connect the dots.

What are you most looking forward to every day?

It doesn’t happen every day unfortunately but I used to love informal conversations around the coffee machine.

How did you feel on your first day at DNEG?

I felt a bit dizzy, a bit lost, and humbled. That’s not meant to sound negative at all, it’s such a large company! But rest assured, that feeling went away in just a few days.

Finish this sentence: DNEG is…

The most incredible visual effects company in the world right now!


Martine is at SIGGRAPH 2022, find out more about our programme here. And if you are interested in joining DNEG’s Oscar-winning team, stay tuned for our next ‘FOCUS’ and click here to find out more about our open positions across our studios in North America, Europe and India.




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