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.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.
“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.”
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?)