VFX Company Image Engine Opens New Vancouver Facility

"The Thing"

The Canadian visual effects studio is looking to build the city's senior talent pool to better compete against the U.S., the UK and New Zealand in securing Hollywood movie work.

TORONTO -- Canadian VFX studio Image Engine is launching a third Vancouver facility to better woo epic Hollywood movie shoots away from Los Angeles and London.

With the budgets on epic studio movies increasingly going to animation and visual effects, Vancouver-based Image Engine is opening a new rotoscoping and camera track production facility.

The plan is to create entry-level jobs for students graduating from Vancouver VFX schools to build up the city’s much-needed skilled artist pool.

Jason Dowdeswell, head of studio at Image Engine, said the new venture at the Center for Digital Media in Burnaby follows a host of VFX studios setting up in Vancouver to take advantage of the close proximity to Los Angeles and local digital tax credits on offer to foreign producers.

“All the studios have arrived, setting up satellite offices. The demand is there,” he explained.

But the challenge is keeping local graduates from leaving Vancouver to chase big name Hollywood movies produced in the U.S., the U.K., New Zealand and Australia to secure work experience and buff up their resume.

In addition, much of the Vancouver rotoscoping and camera track work has been out-sourced to overseas suppliers in Thailand, China and India.

Keeping the work in Vancouver via the new facility will also allow foreign movie producers to further exploit local digital production incentives.

Image Engine recently partnered up with rival Vancouver VFX studios to launch a remote render farm, RenderCloud, to enable the studios to increase their computer horsepower, and allow Hollywood studios to more speedily render data-intensive animation and VFX in the clouds.

The Vancouver VFX studio is currently at work on Neill Blomkamp’s upcoming Elysium feature and Universal’s supernatural action movie R.I.P.D., and recently completed work on Universal’s The Thing and Relativity Media's Immortals.

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