Image Engine Hopes To Grow Vancouver Labor Pool
April 4, 2012

Image Engine Hopes To Grow Vancouver Labor Pool

VANCOUVER — Image Engine ( is launching a new facility at the Centre for Digital Media on the Great Northern Way Campus, creating entry-level industry jobs for visual effects in Vancouver. The goal is to improve the long-term growth of creative talent in the region.
The initiative has been developed to strengthen the region’s capabilities to compete at a higher level with other global production centers, such as the UK, US and New Zealand for the next generation of visual effects driven feature films. The company will open a new unit at the Centre for Digital Media on April 5, to house a new team of artists, who will handle the labor-intensive workload of rotoscoping, which involves manually preparing film plates for compositing, and camera-tracking for the company’s feature film projects in 2012.

“There is a very real pressure for all of the studios in Vancouver to expand significantly in order to meet increasing demand for work in the region,” said Greg Holmes, Image Engine’s CEO. “Our most important asset is our talented people, so at Image Engine we believe it is important to invest proactively in the training and cultivation of the city’s next generation of artists.” 

Head of studio Jason Dowdeswell has overseen the development of the new resource. “There has been an industry-wide trend to outsource rotoscope and camera-track work to overseas suppliers for various logistical reasons, including costs,” Dowdeswell said. “Our insourcing strategy will help build an infrastructure that will support the region’s native industry, by creating new entry-level jobs for local graduates. This also provides better value for our clients who will benefit from production incentives for work completed by BC residents.”

“Investing in local creative talent is essential to the continued success of our business,” added BC Film + Media President and CEO, Richard Brownsey. “This is a positive initiative by Image Engine that will have significant long term benefits for the industry in British Columbia.”

Graduating students from local Vancouver education programs have filled around 70 percent of the new positions at Image Engine’s new studio. Experienced staff will lead the teams, providing in-house support and training on the job, to prepare new recruits for the next step up. Some of these students took part in an educational initiative that Image Engine launched in 2011 with local schools including Vancouver Film School and Vancouver Institute of Media Arts. The company provides curriculum support and individual mentorship for students in participating local visual effects and 3D animation programs. 

“We’re excited about the opportunities that Image Engine has created for so many of our students” said Marianne O’Reilly, Head of Animation & Visual Effects at Vancouver Film School. “Their dedication to hiring local graduates is demonstrated in the large number of VFS grads that are now Image Engine employees. We’re at 29 and counting! This is also another great example of the industry growth in Vancouver, and collaborating with Image Engine helps us fuel this growth in a mutually beneficial way.” 

Other recent infrastructure initiatives at the Centre for Digital Media have included the company’s collaboration with other local studios and technology firm Scalar Decisions to set up a rendering facility named ‘RenderCloud’ which provides dynamically scalable render power with reduced budgets and increased performance, to handle future growth (see the April/May 2012 issue of CGW for an in-depth look at this initiative). The new facility benefits from close proximity to the render farm, which is connected via dark fiber to the company’s other offices in Vancouver. 

“We’re excited by the contribution that Image Engine will make to Vancouver’s growing digital district at The Centre for Digital Media,” said Matthew Carter, President at Great Northern Way. “Image Engine’s visual effects work and their commitment to developing local digital media talent are an ideal fit at the Centre for Digital Media, which offers collaborative initiatives like RenderCloud, office spaces designed for digital media firms, continuing education programs in digital media, and other programs to promote networking and collaboration within digital media.”

“For Image Engine, infrastructure has always been of paramount importance, and has allowed us to be first out of the gate when new opportunities arise,” added Dowdeswell. “Right now, we are concentrating on building collective resources which will contribute to the longevity of our local industry as a whole to compete at a global scale - and the local talent pool is absolutely key to achieving that goal.”