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Pixel Magic

Attracted by Louisiana's growing film industry, Visual effects company Pixel Magic becomes tenant at LITE facility in Lafayette

Pixel Magic

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 Investor Tax Credit, the state witnessed a dramatic increase in film productions. Through the years, the incentive has been made stronger, providing a tax credit of 30 percent on qualified production expenditures and an additional 5 percent tax credit for Louisiana resident labor expenditures. As a result, Louisiana emerged as one of the top five most popular film and television destinations in the United States.

Since then, Louisiana has hosted the production of blockbuster films and Academy Award winners, including Ray, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore. 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.

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 (LEDA) and officials from the Louisiana Immersive Technologies Enterprise (LITE). LITE is a one-of-a-kind facility in Lafayette, created as a partnership between LEDA, LED and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. The facility is a 3-D immersive visualization resource center that hosts clients in the commercial, governmental and academic sectors.

Working with LED and LEDA, officials from LITE offered Pixel Magic one year of free office space at LITE. 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 places satellite office in Lafayette

In late 2009, Pixel Magic announced that its satellite office would open in Lafayette, becoming a full time tenant of the LITE Center.

"One of the main reasons we chose the state of Louisiana and the city of Lafayette is LITE. LITE has a built-in technology infrastructure that is available for Pixel Magic to utilize now, that is not available in other states and cities," said Ray McIntyre Jr., VFX supervisor at Pixel Magic. "Probably the most important is that they understand and have a skilled staff that knows technology and data handling, and in our business that's a big portion of it."

"LITE has the skilled personnel and experience in digital media, and the business community of Lafayette has a reputation of innovation that made our decision to open an office in Lafayette a clear choice," added Ray Scalice, vice president and general manager of Pixel Magic. "This relationship will enable Pixel Magic to utilize LITE's cutting-edge tools for visual effects creation and high-speed infrastructure in the rendering and transfer of data to our clients."

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.

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, Looper, The Help, and Parts I and II of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, with more films to come in the future.

Related Incentive

Motion Picture Investor Tax Credit

A 30% transferable tax credit for qualified motion picture production expenditures and an additional 5% payroll tax credit for in-state labor.

Key Industry

Entertainment

Incentives in digital media, live performance, motion picture and sound propel a billion-dollar industry.

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