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Welcome to Mount Pixel


The Globe And Mail | June 23, 2017 | Original Article

It is an art form practised in deep, need-to-know secrecy but eventually seen by millions of people around the world – more than will view the most acclaimed canvasses. The work is quietly created on computers in dozens of visual-effects studios across the Vancouver region. There are, for example, so many studios in Vancouver’s Mount Pleasant neighbourhood that some call it Mount Pixel.

Vancouver, already well known as a centre for Hollywood-financed feature-film and TV production, has become a global powerhouse for the production of visual effects (VFX) in some of the most high-profile films out these days. The credits tell the story: Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, Dr. Strange, Jurassic World, Logan and TV’s Game of Thrones, among others.

Some of the studios are small, with 20 or so employees. Others are massive. Sony Imageworks, for example, has 700 employees at a complex in the city core above a Nordstrom department store. The size of the Vancouver industry varies depending on who’s counting. The BC Tech Association estimates there are at least 57 VFX companies and studios employing more than 3,700 people. The provincial Creative BC organization tallies 73.

While it’s not clear exactly how many firms there are, the industry is definitely thriving. FilmL.A. Inc., the official film office of the Greater Los Angeles region, noted in a recent report that Britain and Canada “have both usurped” California and the United States as global centres for VFX work.

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