It's Raining Pegbars! A Profile Of Animation In Vancouver
(continued from page 4)

Sirius Animation is the new kid on the block in character animation and is looking for some serious distribution. They've nearly completed the first episode of The Elf King, which is the story of Prince Fahnir, the huntress Cherlindrea and the Elfin Woods they call home. Sirius is creating a richly detailed world with the look and feel of fairy tale illustrations.

Northwest Imaging and FX helped ILM bring the visual voom to the live-action Spawn. Courtesy of Industrial Light & Magic © 1997 New Line Cinema. All Rights Reserved.

Northwest Imaging and FX dominated the effects scene until Rainmaker and a few smaller studios sprouted up. The X-Files was their meat and potatoes until the production moved to a sunnier climate. They also worked on the movie Spawn and did effects for Poltergeist and Stargate. Finale Post Production expanded into effects with their Image Engine facility. Two established Toronto companies opened western outposts: GVFX (formerly Gajdecki) and Toybox/Command Post, who also have a character animation division. More recent additions to the roster of effects houses are Lost Boys and Prospero.

In the middle of all this activity, Walt Disney Television Canada came…and went! Their recent announcement to close their doors officially came as no surprise to their employees, who started trickling off to find other work over a year ago. When the studio first arrived in 1997 with a full hype machine on overdrive, the whole city seemed to buzz, as if the streets would be paved with gold for every animator in town! The studios, however, were skeptical. As it turns out, the staff at the studio never exceeded about 200, and fluctuated with the seasons just like all the others. When work at the studio started to wane, studios like Mainframe and Studio B snatched everyone up. In this regard, the Disney studio had a very positive affect on the local scene by helping to create an experienced workforce.

Direct-to-video releases like Pocahontas II were the projects that passed through Walt Disney Canada’s doors. © Walt Disney Home Video.

The Association of British Columbia Animation Producers (ABCAP) is the collective voice for many of the studios listed here. Its members have worked together to promote and stabilize the local industry. However, as ABCAP president Mark Freedman sees it, there are challenges ahead. He finds that the takeovers and mergers within our industry make it tough for independent producers to obtain production and distribution deals. Freedman says that the next 2 to 3 years will be crucial for B.C. "Either we will continue to grow and take our place among the key animation production centers in the world, or we'll remain a production service provider."

Rainmaker’s Malcolm Earle comments that people in the U.S. are complaining about all the work coming to Canada, "But if you look at the numbers, B.C. does in a year what Los Angeles does in a day. We can offer them value -- quality work at favorable costs."

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