Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Pixar Canada Shuts Down

Adios, Amigos

The Province is reporting that Pixar Canada has shut its doors and laid off its staff.
 Close to 100 employees at Pixar Canada’s Gastown animation studio lost their jobs Tuesday as the company decided to pack up the three-year-old operation and concentrate its operations in Emeryville, California.

 “A decision was made to refocus operations and resources under the one roof,” Barb Matheson, a spokesman for Pixar parent company Disney, said from Toronto. “Staff were just told today. Not great news, obviously. It was just a refocussing of efforts and resources to the one facility.”
The facility opened in the Spring of 2010.  This is the third studio that Disney has opened and closed in Canada and the second in Vancouver.  As recently as August 20, Pixar Canada was advertising for a layout artist and animators, so it appears that this decision was fairly sudden.

 It is important for animation artists and students to realize that while companies like Disney/Pixar appeal to a person's love for their characters and the status of joining a winning team, that branch plants are nothing more than economic calculations.  At the time it opened, Pixar Vancouver made economic sense; now, for some reason, it doesn't.  The Pixar dust that was liberally spread throughout Canada was a marketing opportunity to gain the company good will and bait for prospective employees.

It wouldn't surprise me if in five or ten years Disney/Pixar opens yet another studio in Canada.  I hope that people wake up to the fact that a job in a branch plant is just a job.  It might be a good job in terms of pay or opportunity, but in fundamental ways, it is no different than any other kind of job.  If they no longer want you, you're gone.

(If anyone from Pixar Canada would care to comment, I'd be interested in an employee's view of the shut down.  Did employees receive notice or severance?  What happens to projects that are still in progress?)


JPilot said...

"Disney was drawn to Vancouver by tax incentives, and this closure comes in the wake of British Columbia reducing those incentives, it is possible the Mouse House might look at Ontario or Quebec as new locations for a Canada branch."

The answer is right there.

I am thinking that Pixar Montreal will be located near touristy Place St-Jacques in Old Montreal.

As for Pixar Toronto, Disney might put it in Hamilton since Ontario gives more tax credits if you set up shop outside the GTA.

Anonymous said...

the irony of Disney opening again in Toronto speaks volumes about their broken animation model. Instead of chasing tax incentives, that should figure out how to save their diluted animation brand.

Anonymous said...

It's just a job at most places, not just branch plants. An animator at Pixar in California will have no more status in the story-making than an artist does in Canada. Artists should always view it as a job that is part of a larger career that will allow them to use their skills. We're craftsmen for the most part, unless we actually decide to become creators and make things on the side or go through the pitching process.

When the stars align and you work at it when you can, then maybe you can be a creator. In the meantime, just be happy to have work and adding entertainment to the projects you do.