Pixar Canada studio opens in Vancouver

To make animated shorts for Disney channels, online sites

TORONTO -- Disney Pixar officially launched its new Vancouver studio Tuesday, as it ramps up to an eventual 100 artists animating short films based on popular Pixar characters.

Pixar Canada, a subsidiary of Pixar Animation Studios, is initially working out of a temporary office in Vancouver's Gastown district, and hopes to build it out into a permanent 20,000 to 25,000 square foot facility.

The Vancouver studio, which has put out a hiring call for local animators and technical artists, will produce short-form animation portraying legacy Pixar characters that includes Buzz Lightyear and Woody from "Toy Story" and Lightning McQueen from "Cars."

The Pixar Canada animated shorts will mostly air on Disney channels and online sites.

The opening of the Pixar Canada studio is the latest sign of Hollywood animation giants are migrating north to take advantage of Canadian tax credits for visual effects and animation work.

Sony Pictures Imageworks is currently staffing up a Vancouver studio, also in downtown Vancouver, while Digital Domain opened a visual effects house with local talent, and is busy doing spill-over work from Venice for Disney's "Tron Legacy" and the Disney/Marvel "Thor" movies.

The digital tax credits are a godsend for the Canadian industry as the number of Hollywood studio film and TV projects shooting north of the border has slowed due to the economic downturn and a high Canadian dollar.

In Ontario, generous public subsidies lured French interactive games maker Ubisoft to open a development studio in Toronto, with 800 jobs, and Starz Entertainment to run its Starz Animation Toronto 3D cartoon studio in the city.