Variety - Core California FX Companies Find Success Despite Exodus of Many Rivals

It’s hard to think of visual effects without thinking of California. The rise of the modern VFX industry owes a huge debt to the talents of Golden State artists -— and California’s vast entertainment factory gave VFX its customer base and cash.

Yet over the years, as the cost of creating effects rose and the margins of large California VFX companies dwindled or disappeared (think Colossal Pictures, Rhythm & Hues, Digital Domain), thousands of artist jobs left the state for Canada and other places offering tax rebates and production incentives.

Yet California remains the hub of motion picture production, and some smaller shops have survived the exodus with an agile mix of staffing strategies, client diversification, and efficient technology.

Optimism prompted effects veteran Greg Liegey to co-found Hollywood-based Mammal Studios in 2013. “It was a contrarian idea. People thought we were nuts,” he says. “But we’re banking on our experience and connections, hoping to stay in L.A. We have families here.” Liegey believes Mammal’s proximity to major studios is an advantage that helped the company win jobs on “Joy” and “Concussion.”

Ramping up personnel as needed is a familiar strategy among effects shops. As Liegey explains, “Mammal has a core of 12 senior people who can do hands-on work. They get a project going, and then we hire people to finish shots. Junior artists today are proficient using software, but they need artistic guidance. It’s a win-win.”

Read the full article here:  http://variety.com/2016/artisans/production/california-fx-houses-1201790672/