Vancouver’s film industry is booming. Dubbed Hollywood North in cinephile circles, the Lower Mainland has played host to big-budget flicks like 50 Shades of Grey, Deadpool, and War of the Planet of the Apes, and brought in more than $3.8 billion to the region in 2017 alone.
More than just a pretty backdrop, however, much of Vancouver’s value to the film sector is its talent in creating visual effects. More than 60 studios make up the VFX and animation industry, creating the world’s largest cluster of domestic and foreign-owned companies.
Despite the local competition, the region’s studios have more work than they can take on—and businesses are hiring.
One example is visual-effects leader Image Engine. Recognized in the industry for its CGI creations—the organization was behind Game of Thrones dragon Drogon’s iconic attack on the loot train in the show’s latest season—Image Engine has set an ambitious target to grow its staff. Currently employing 200 artists, the business aims to hire 100 more by the close of 2019, and hopes to have a headcount of 350 by the end of 2020.
In order to house those fresh faces, Image Engine is expanding into a new space in Mount Pleasant. Located at 2043 Quebec Street, the office will be next to the company’s existing space on 5th Avenue, growing its total footprint to 29,000 square feet.
Shawn Walsh, visual-effects executive producer and general manager of the studio, says the new purpose-renovated facility will better its ability to create extraordinary effects—especially at a time when Image Engine is ramping up postproduction work on high-end movies and TV shows, including Disney’s live-action Mulan.
“Our new studio space enhances our capacity and flexibility, enabling Image Engine to take on the delivery of complex work for film and television,” he says. “It also allows us to juggle multiple film and television projects for our clients all year round, while continuing to commit to the Mount Pleasant visual-effects and animation community.”
The new office will house 100 of the new employees, focused in particular on animation, rigging, creature FX, digital FX, client communications, and editorial content writing. The open-concept floor plan will, the company hopes, create good lines of communication across the departments, and the space will also feature 4K-equipped rooms for review, editorial, and client collaboration.
“Our enhanced studio space will enable us to answer the call from Hollywood clients and support a growing list of unique creative challenges,” Walsh says. “The ability to say yes to our clients…[which] has been challenging to date with the current facilities, is hugely appealing. The new facilities will enable our artists and technical staff to engage with more opportunities to work with talented filmmakers all over the world.”
Image Engine's recent projects include Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (Warner Bros.), Kin (Lionsgate), Skyscraper (Universal Pictures), The Meg (Warner Bros.), and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (Universal Pictures).
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