Industrial Light and Magic Takes Over the Old Pixar Space

Industrial Light and Magic Vancouver | BCBusiness
Industrial Light and Magic hopes to expand its Vancouver workforce from 133 employees to more than 200 by this summer.

Global leader in visual effects opens permanent Vancouver studio in Gastown

Just five months after Pixar Canada shuttered its Vancouver operation, a cadre of Transformers, Ninja Turtles and other high-octane superheroes have stepped in to pump up the local film industry.

Lucasfilm’s Industrial Light and Magic, the legendary industry leader in visual effects, has taken over Pixar’s old location in Gastown, doubling its Vancouver space to 30,000 square feet and putting down permanent roots. Now with 133 employees, ILM is actively recruiting to grow to more than 200 artists by this summer.

After setting up a small shop in Vancouver in 2011 to work on Pacific Rim and The Lone Ranger, the dazzling output of local workers played a key role in ILM’s decision to invest long-term. “With the remarkable talent the studio has attracted and the incredible imagery they have been able to create, we saw a tremendous benefit to giving this studio a permanent place in our global operations,” said ILM president and general manager Lynwyn Brennan.

Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy and ILM’s chief creative officer John Knoll joined Brennan at the official opening of ILM’s new Vancouver studio, along with federal minister for international trade Ed Fast and provincial minister of state for small business Naomi Yamamoto.

Knoll lauds Vancouver’s film schools for producing strong animators. He also acknowledges the world-class digital compositors that have developed in the city’s other effects studios. He says ILM plans to work closely with local schools and studios to continue developing skilled future staffers. “What we need is experienced, high-end talent,” he said. “That talent pool can only come to exist when there’s a critical mass.”

ILM is able to offer its artists a more secure work experience than other VFX studios, which generally operate on a project-by-project basis. As part of LucasFilm, which was acquired by The Walt Disney Company in 2012, ILM has a guaranteed slate of work on the schedule for the next decade, headlined by three new Star Wars films.

Director JJ Abrams will start shooting Episode VII in London this May; up to one-third of the film’s visual-effects work will be produced in the Gastown office.

Other major productions in the pipeline for ILM Vancouver include Transformers: Age of Extinction, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Tomorrowland, Jurassic World and Warcraft.