Visiting visual effects company takes interest in Louisiana
In 2002, Louisiana became one of the first states to embrace tax credits for the movie industry. With the development of its Motion Picture Production Program, Louisiana witnessed a dramatic increase in film productions and emerged as one of the top five most popular film and television destinations in the United States. In fact, the 2013 Feature Film Production Report released by Film L.A. showed that the film industry in Louisiana overtook California’s for the title of the film-production capital of the world.
Since the launch of the Motion Picture Production Program, Louisiana has hosted the production of blockbuster films and Academy Award winners, including Ray, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, Dallas Buyers Club and 12 Years a Slave. This growing industry, and the support it received from the state, has caught the attention of production studios and support companies.
One company in particular, Pixel Magic, provided the visual effects (VFX) for the film Secretariat while the movie was being filmed in various locations across Louisiana in 2009.
As one of the top digital effects studios in the U.S., Pixel Magic’s portfolio of work includes projects for Miramax, Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox and DreamWorks. These projects include such familiar titles as Marley & Me, Get Smart, 300, Mr. and Mrs. Smith and The Last Samurai. In 2009, while Pixel Magic was in the process of adding Secretariat to this list, company executives were exploring opportunities for a satellite studio in an area with a growing film industry.
The right location for Pixel Magic needed not only a thriving film industry, but a skilled workforce experienced in digital media and a community ready to innovate in the filmmaking business. Additionally, Pixel Magic required that the location had the right financial environment for the studio to be successful. Witnessing firsthand the growing film industry in Louisiana, Pixel Magic added the state to the locations it was evaluating, which included Canada and New Mexico.
LED makes case for Pixel Magic investment in Louisiana
LED officials knew Louisiana could provide the ideal location for Pixel Magic’s satellite office. Not only had Louisiana hosted many film productions already, but several state-of-the-art facilities had developed in the state to support the post-production sector of the film industry. LED officials met with Pixel Magic executives to identify solutions to the company’s needs.
LED collaborated with two economic development partners in Lafayette — Lafayette Economic Development Authority, or LEDA, and officials from the Louisiana Immersive Technologies Enterprise, or LITE. LITE is a one-of-a-kind facility in Lafayette, created as a partnership between LEDA, Louisiana Economic Development and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. The facility features a 3-D immersive visualization resource center that hosts clients in the commercial, governmental and academic sectors. If Pixel Magic decided to establish a location in Louisiana, the LITE facility would serve as a great place to get started.
Working with state officials and LEDA, officials from LITE offered Pixel Magic a year of free office space at the LITE facility. There, the VFX studio would be able to use the facility’s comprehensive set of advanced visualization systems.
The state also offered Pixel Magic the services of LED FastStart® — the No. 1 ranked workforce recruitment and training program in the nation. The company could use FastStart’s resources to identify, recruit and train the right talent for the studio’s needs.
Pixel Magic estblishes places satellite office in Louisiana
In late 2009, Pixel Magic announced that its satellite office would open in Lafayette, becoming a full time tenant of the LITE Center. FastStart helped Pixel Magic recruit, screen, train and evaluate several new employees in the Lafayette area to become digital compositors and stereo painters. Once FastStart and Pixel Magic screened the individuals, phone interviews followed. Selected applicants attended several weeks of training provided by FastStart, and they were taught by an instructor chosen by Pixel Magic leaders in a classroom designed and configured by FastStart staff.
In the years following this announcement, the company made use of the available resources within the LITE center, and the talented team of visual effects artists worked on major films, including Looper, The Help, and Parts I and II of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
Pixel Magic found great success at the Lafayette facility, but maintaining its competitive edge required the company to be closer to the action. Film production activity takes place in all corners of Louisiana, but Baton Rouge is home to a fully-realized studio - Celtic Media Centre. Celtic is the largest studio factory in Louisiana, and with nearly 150,000 square feet of design-built stage space, it is also the filming location for some of the biggest titles in the past few years, including Oblivion
, Twilight: Breaking Dawn
and The Fantastic Four
Celtic boasted many of the same resources LITE provided, but it also provided the opportunity for Pixel Magic to collaborate more freely with the film producers. As Pixel Magic began a new chapter in its growth, Celtic Media Centre emerged as a location to provide unique benefits. In October 2015, Pixel Magic located to Baton Rouge and occupied 2,000 square feet of space, which includes 15 work stations and a motion capture room, with available space to expand as needed. The proximity to film production allows Pixel Magic leadership to be on-set for visual effects supervision.
“We chose to be on the campus of the Celtic Media Centre because it's the largest movie production studio in Louisiana, and gives Pixel Magic exposure to many producers and movie production companies who are planning to shoot there,” said Raymond McIntyre Jr., Vice President & Visual Effects Supervisor for Pixel Magic.
With the goal of providing movie studios the best VFX services available, Pixel Magic does most of its hiring on a project-by-project basis, bringing on additional staff for large projects. Since opening, the studio has contributed to such films as 21 Jump Street
, 22 Jump Street
, When the Game Stands Tall
and The Conjuring
, as well as episodes of AMC’s Into the Badlands. Additionally, Pixel Magic visual effects artists are currently working on films that are still in production and slated for release in the coming year.