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Oscar-winning VFX house DNEG expands Vancouver office with new animation studio

This comes shortly after Disney revealed it, too, was launching an animation studio in Vancouver
Image from Ron's Gone Wrong | Credit: DNEG

The Oscar-winning visual effects (VFX) company behind blockbuster fare such as Inception and Interstellar is set to expand its footprint in Hollywood North.

Double Negative Ltd. (DNEG) will be hiring up to 100 workers for a new feature animation studio in Vancouver as the VFX house aims to grow significantly across Canada’s major tech hubs.

Prior to Monday’s announcement, the Vancouver office was focused specifically on VFX work, having brought home an Oscar for the Neil Armstrong biopic First Man. (Coincidentally, Canadian actor Ryan Gosling starred in the lead role in both First Man and Blade Runner 2049 — the latter of which also earned an Oscar for the DNEG team back in 2018.)

DNEG’s parent company, Prime Focus Ltd., secured a US$250-million equity investment from Novator Capital Advisers just last week. With the new cash in hand, the VFX company is also launching a new studio in Toronto as well as expanding its Montreal office.

The Toronto studio will employ up to 200 workers, while up to 300 additional workers are set for either Vancouver or Montreal.

The Vancouver hiring plans include both the new animation studio, where as many as 100 workers would be based, and its existing VFX studio.

The team at the new animation studio is already set to move into production on five new animation projects, according to DNEG chairman and CEO Namit Malhotra.

“Growth in our Canadian talent and capabilities will help us strategically align with the demands of the entertainment industry and seize upon our new growth initiatives and content creation opportunities,” he said in a statement.

DNEG’s interest in Vancouver’s animation prowess comes only a few weeks after Disney revealed it was launching an animation studio in the city this coming January.

Disney’s new Vancouver studio has already been tapped for long-form series work, such as the Moana adaptation for the small screen, as well as other projects for the Disney+ streaming service.

Vancouverite Amir Nasrabadi, formerly of WildBrain Ltd.’s (TSX:WILD) B.C. office, will lead Disney’s new team.

Meanwhile, DNEG Global chief technology officer Paul Salvini, a Canadian, said his company won’t be aiming to hire solely those with previous film and media industry experience.

Instead, "we’re looking for passionate and curious technologists who are excited at the prospect of a new challenge,” he said.

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