Computer Graphics World

May / June 2015

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m ay . j u n e 2 0 1 5 c g w 1 9 on in pricing to the client." In fact, Sony Pictures Im- ageworks recently moved its headquarters from Culver City, California, to Vancouver, where it became the city's largest VFX and digital character animation studio in terms of floor space. "Vancouver is not just a TV town," says Andrew Orloff, one of the founders of Zoic Studios, creative director for episodic television and president of the thriving British Columbia office. "Motion-picture studios are even more strict about saying they need tax credits on VFX. They want to see their money on the screen, and they go where they can get the most [credit]. Internationally financed projects for TV and film get financing based on Vancouver tax credits." Tim Jacobsen, executive producer and co-founder of FuseFX, which opened a full-scale facility in Vancouver last fall, finds that "not all work requires tax incentives, but you need to have options for all clients: those shooting in Vancouver or those working here in LA, but directed through a Vancouver office. Vancouver allows us to expand and cast our net wider." Ollin FX has a capacity of 120 at its headquarters in Mexico City, which offers tax benefits through NAFTA, plus a Los Angeles office established 10 years ago. "We were already one of the major VFX and post facilities in Latin America, but we wanted to reach Hollywood from the inside," says Charlie Iturriaga, VFX supervisor at Ollin FX. "That's where the key creative people are. We needed space in LA so our artists could sit down with the creatives." Right now, Ollin FX is "running the numbers" on establishing a facility in Vancouver, where it has been working with several independent artists on shots for House of Cards. "We're in the process of understanding how things work there, how we can help clients who require tax incentives," Iturriaga says. "We have been working in two locations for years, so we have a road map for transferring data and sharing resources." Tax incentives aren't the only financial benefit for produc- tions. With the Canadian dollar currently valued at approx- imately 84 cents to the US dollar, the exchange rate alone is advantageous to clients, Orloff says. W H A T ' S N O T T O L O V E ? A seaport town hugging the mainland of British Columbia, Vancouver is a bustling modern city endowed with great natural beauty. It's known as a very desirable place to live and work. "Artists really like Vancouver," says Orloff. "It's more like an East Coast city in style: It's a real walking city that has good public transportation, too. There are lots of independent neigh- borhoods and stores." Vancouver can double for lo- cations worldwide, both quaint and contemporary, and there's a wide array of terrain just out- side the city. "Production can get a lot of value from a diversity of locations — the cityscape, neighborhoods like Gastown that can play New York, and the forest primeval is a short drive away," says Orloff. The area is also well equipped for stage-based shoots. "Van- couver is well positioned to capitalize on virtual production, especially for TV, with stage space and the production apparatus to handle big green- screen sequences," Orloff notes. ABC's Once Upon a Time, a Zoic client, is a big virtual-set show that's based in town. Some may believe that the cost of doing business and the cost of living in Canada are higher than in the US, but Orloff finds real estate and utility prices a little cheaper than the Los Angeles area. Vancouver is also a straight run up the Pacific Coast from Los Angeles, so it offers the benefit of proximity. "It's a two- and-a-half-hour plane ride," says Orloff. "We can be in an LA edit room or at a pitch meeting tomorrow. And we can com- municate by phone in real time. Fiber on the West Coast is very good for sharing media and files in pretty much real time, too." "Being in the same time

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