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Pixar Canada sets up home base in Vancouver, looks to expand


Pixar studios developed the Toy Story characters, Buzz Lightyear and Woody.

Pixar studios developed the Toy Story characters, Buzz Lightyear and Woody.

Photograph by: Handout, Pixar

VANCOUVER — Pixar Canada, the Vancouver satellite studio of the Californiabased computer-generated-animation company, will begin training new staff in late May, and start work on its first short film by early August. Amir Nasrabadi, Pixar Canada's general manager, says the company has 20 Vancouver employees, has posted another 15 jobs on,and plans to hire 35 more over the next 18 months.

The company is housed in a 7,000-square-foot Gastown space, but Nasrabadi doesn't know if that will be the studio's permanent home. Premier Gordon Campbell will be on hand this morning for the studio's official opening and an expected announcement. Pixar is negotiating with the owner of the Water Street building about getting more space. Nasrabadi said Pixar Canada would like to have 20,000-25,000 square feet for its Vancouver operation.

Of the 20 current employees, 16 are Canadian and 13 of those are either Vancouver-area residents or former Vancouverites moving back to the area.

The studio's management team consists of general manager Nasrabadi, a former vice-president of operations and finance for DisneyToon Studios; creative director Dylan Brown, who's been with Pixar since 1995; and chief technical officer Darwyn Peachey, a 22-year Pixar employee. They have been working in Vancouver since last fall.

"Our website is our main recruiting tool," Nasrabadi advises those looking to join the Pixar team. "We tend to look for people who are talented and people who have great attitudes. By that I mean we want people here who have a strong desire to give and take feedback and have a continuous hunger to learn. The strength of our organization is creative collaboration, and those are the key attributes that we look for."

The Vancouver studio will make short animations using characters from Pixar's feature films, which will continue to be made at the company's main studio in Emeryville, Calif. The stars of the Vancouver-made films will be existing characters like Buzz Lightyear and Woody from Toy Story, and Lightning McQueen and Mater from Cars.

"Our mission here is to keep our franchise and legacy characters alive through the creation of short films," says Nasrabadi, stressing the studio will not create original films involving non-franchise characters. Shorts made here will air on the Disney Channel and,and possibly on DVD compilations. They may also be shown at family theme parks around the world.

Teams of 30-55 people will work on a short, which takes three to nine months to make. Through the company's pipeline system, work done in Vancouver can be seen immediately in Emeryville. All post-production work on the Vancouver shorts will be done in California.

Pixar, founded by animator John Lasseter, began as a small independent studio making short animations. Its first noteworthy film was Luxo Jr., a 1986 short about a desk lamp, which remains the company's iconic symbol.

It has since become known for feature films Toy Story, Toy Story 2, A Bug's Life, Monsters Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Cars, Ratatouille, Wall-E and last year's Up.

Pixar studios developed the Toy Story characters, Buzz Lightyear and Woody.

Pixar studios developed the Toy Story characters, Buzz Lightyear and Woody.

Photograph by: Handout, Pixar


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