The consolidation trend amongst high-end vfx shops continues. Just one year after visual effects producers Prime Focus World and Double Negative announced a merger, the UK-headquartered Cinesite has acquired Vancouver, Canada-based Image Engine.

Last Thursday, Cinesite and Imagine Engine announced an alliance that knits together their combined staffs into a worldwide workforce numbering over 525 artists. They’ve got room for about 150 more employees at their London, Vancouver, and Montreal studios, as the “complementary” companies join forces to expand their VFX and animation horizons — and to take further advantage of Canada’s generous tax breaks for the animation/vfx industry.

“We will continue operating in our various geographical locations and our focus will continue on our different core visual effects strengths,” said Cinesite managing director Antony Hunt. “In addition, Cinesite is also leading the charge into feature animation. We’re working on very compelling projects including original IP from our development company, Comic Animations Ltd., and on projects brought to us by the studios.”

“In addition to widening our reach to achieve even greater heights in high-end visual effects, this alliance will present new career development opportunities for all our artists and crews and will deliver benefits and opportunities to all our stakeholders, be they staff, customers, suppliers, financial partners or shareholders,” said Image Engine CEO Greg Holmes.

Cinesite provided visual effects for a major battle sequence in the 2014 feaure "Hercules."
Cinesite provided visual effects for a major battle sequence in the 2014 feaure “Hercules.”

Founded in 1995, Image Engine broke through after its Oscar-nominated VFX helped District 9 become one of 2009’s most compelling films, establishing director Neill Blomkamp as a go-to guy for smart sci-fi. Their symbiotic relationship continued on subsequent Blomkamp projects like Elysium and Chappie, although the Canadian company’s work also caught fire on crowd-pleasers like Game of Thrones, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Jurassic World.

Image Engine’s resume shines nicely alongside that of Cinesite, which was founded a year earlier by Kodak and whose work on films like the John Carter, Skyfall, Iron Man 3, and the Harry Potter franchise have brought it acclaim and awards. Last year, Cinesite announced it was working on the children’s animated feature Charming. The studio’s first entertainment project through its animation division was Beans, a micro-short that has generated nearly 13 millions on Youtube since debuting in December 2013:

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