Inside Industrial Light & Magic Vancouver's new 30,000 sq. ft. Gastown studio (PHOTOS)

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Lucasfilm’s Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) unveiled its new 30,000 sq. ft. studio on 21 Water St. in Gastown, which was formerly home to Disney’s Pixar animation studio.

The President of LucasFilm, Kathleen Kennedy, was proud to announce the official satellite office opening, alongside Lynwen Brennan who is President and General Manager, and Chief Creative Officer, John Knoll.

Kathleen Kennedy unveiling new Gastown satellite office
Kathleen Kennedy unveiling new Gastown satellite office
Image: Roshini Sakhrani

The company occupies four floors of the Packing House building and overlooks a spectacular view of Canada Place and Vancouver Harbour.

ILM’s previous office space on Carrall St. had 90 artists operating from the studio, where the team has now grown to 133 employees and are looking to expand to 200 this summer.  “When we started here, we started conservatively, and we dipped our toes in, and continually the artists blew us away in what we were able to do. We grew and grew to a point where we outgrew our [Carrall St.] space,” says Brennan.

“Industrial Light & Magic’s new permanent Vancouver studio is great news for our robust innovation economy, and another clear example of the remarkable talent and investment being attracted to our city,” says Mayor Gregor Robertson.

Knoll, who has been with the company for 28 years says that ILM is planting permanent roots in Vancouver and has eight to ten years worth of work slated in terms of upcoming films and visual effects. Upcoming projects for films such as Jurassic World, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Star Wars Episode: VII are amongst the anticipated blockbusters for the company.

“Vancouver is a hot bed for the creative arts. From this talent base we have assembled a very strong team of artists and production personnel who collaborate with our team in San Fransisco and Singapore at the highest levels,” says Knoll.

Providing creative innovations for visual effects, and pioneering motion control cameras, the company has transformed the use of computer graphics and digital imaging over the years. The Lone Ranger was recently nominated for an Oscar for visual effects, and a BAFTA award Pacific Rim in the same category, all produced by ILM.

Brennan says that the company generally hires people with experience in the field that they are applying for, but have had success with people in the apprenticeship program and have made them a part of the team.

ILM is looking to recruit talented artists, and Brennan says, “We’ve chosen Vancouver because of the investment that we have made in the industry here, and it has grown an incredible pool of really really talented artists.” The company is thinking of partnering up with educational institutes in the future to tailor a curriculum that would help prospective students thinking about a career in visual effects.

The 30,000 sq. ft. studio offers its artists amenities such as a fitness centre, a lounge, and provides them with an open work space environment. The lounge features a simple yet chic entertainment space where the wall to wall windows overlook Vancouver’s scenic horizon.

This heritage building took two years to construct in 1910, and served as Vancouver’s first butcher shop, and has now transformed into an iconic urban space for ILM.

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Roshini Sakhrani Editorial Intern at Vancity Buzz
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