Award-winning visual-effects studio closing in Vancouver

Moving Picture Company is closing its Academy Award-winning animation and visual effects studio in Vancouver.

News that the company was shuttering its Vancouver location appeared on a Reddit thread on Wednesday. A Reddit user posted a photo claiming to be the letter sent to Vancouver employees. The letter was also posted on the image-sharing site Imgur.

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It says that MPC’s Vancouver studio will “cease operations effective immediately and refocus its geographical presence to other locations.”

The letter notes that there are more attractive opportunities in other locations, and that it has become challenging to sustain its Vancouver office.

Messages to MPC and its parent company Technicolor confirming the closure have yet to be returned.

It is unclear how many people have been laid off, but at its height the studio had 800 artists.

Brenda Bailey, executive director of DigiBC, the Interactive and Digital Media Industry Association of B.C., says there is some uncertainty about whether B.C.’s tax credits will be reduced, and visual effects companies don’t like unpredictability.

She said MPC plans to expand its Montreal studio.

Vancouver still has a “thriving” film animation and visual effects sector, and Bailey believes some of the laid-off employees will be able to find jobs.

Although she said that a lot of cities, such as Montreal, are offering incentives to build their visual effects sector, and so predicted many of the talented artists will leave for more promising jobs elsewhere.

“This is a real loss for Vancouver. They did award-winning work. I hope we can continue to prioritize this work here in B.C. I hope this isn’t the start of things to come, but I worry,” she said.

Bailey was not sure how the employees were told of the layoffs, but said the doors were locked to MPC Vancouver by Wednesday afternoon.

MPC has worked on blockbusters such as The Amazing Spider Man, Bladerunner 2049 and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. The Vancouver studio opened in 2007 with a 38,000-square-foot space on Hamilton Street in Yaletown. The studio won an Academy Award for its work on the The Life of Pi and is known for its redesign of Sonic the Hedgehog.

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