Sony Pictures Imageworks
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Sony Pictures Imageworks

Sony Pictures Imageworks Inc.
IndustryCGI visual effects
Motion pictures
FoundedMay 26, 1992; 28 years ago (1992-05-26)
Headquarters725 Granville Street 5th floor Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
10202 West Washington Boulevard, Culver City, California, U.S.
Number of locations
ProductsVisual effects
Number of employees
800 (2018)[1]
ParentSony Pictures Entertainment

Sony Pictures Imageworks Inc. is a Canada-based visual effects and computer animation company headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia, with an additional office on the Sony Pictures Studios lot in Culver City, California.[2] SPI is a unit of Sony Pictures Entertainment's Motion Picture Group.[3][4]

The company has been recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences with Oscars for their work on Spider-Man 2 and the computer-animated short film The ChubbChubbs!, and received many other nominations for their work.

SPI has provided visual effects for many films; most recent include The Meg, Men in Black: International, and Spider-Man: Far From Home. They also provided services for several of director Robert Zemeckis' films, including Contact, Cast Away, The Polar Express, and Beowulf.

Since the foundation of its sister company Sony Pictures Animation in 2002, SPI would go on to animate nearly all of SPA's films, including Open Season, Surf's Up, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and films in the Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Smurfs and Hotel Transylvania franchises, in addition to animating films for other studios such as Arthur Christmas for Aardman Animations (co-produced by SPA), Storks and Smallfoot for the Warner Animation Group, The Angry Birds Movie and its sequel for Rovio Animation, and Over the Moon for Netflix and Pearl Studio.


Sony Pictures Imageworks was formed in 1992 with five employees to use computers to help plan complicated scenes for live-action films.[5] Located in the former TriStar building, their first work was a previsualization for the 1993 film Striking Distance.[6]

To fill the gaps between VFX jobs, SPI decided to partake in a more profitable animation business.[7] Its first independent animated effort was the 5-minute short The ChubbChubbs! directed by Eric Armstrong. In 2002, it won the Oscar for Best Animated Short. Early Bloomer, released in 2003, was the division's second short film and originally made as a storyboarding exercise.[8] SPI completed its first feature animation project in 2006 with the release of Open Season, which was produced by sister company Sony Pictures Animation.

In 2007, SPI acquired Indian visual effects studio FrameFlow to take advantage of lower labor costs.[7][9] Renamed to Imageworks India, a modern facility was opened in Chennai a year later.[10] To leverage New Mexico's tax rebates and talent base,[11] a satellite production facility was opened in 2007 in Albuquerque,[12] becoming the largest post-production operation in the state.[13] In 2010, SPI opened a production studio in Vancouver, British Columbia, in order to take advantage of the local talent pool and government film production incentives.[14] Two years later, the studio doubled its Vancouver facilities.[15] At the same time, the Albuquerque studio was closed down due to declining New Mexico's subsidies and difficulty with attracting artist to move there.[11]

In the beginning of 2014, as part of Sony's cost-cutting move, SPI transferred a portion of its technology team from its headquarters in Culver City to Vancouver.[7] By May 2014, entire headquarters and production had been moved to Vancouver, with only a small office remaining in Los Angeles.[16] At the same time, SPI closed down its Indian studio, laying off around 100 employees.[17] A year later, over 700 artists moved into a new 74,000-square feet headquarters in Vancouver.[18][19]


During 2009-2010, SPI made transition from traditional biased, multi-pass rendering system to a largely singlepass, global illumination system incorporating modern ray-tracing and physically based shading techniques. They have achieved that with Arnold Renderer, an unbiased stochastic ray tracer. Arnold, started in 1997 by Marcos Fajardo, was co-developed between 2004 and 2009 with SPI, where Marcos was employed, and a commercial branch is being developed by Marcos' Madrid based company Solid Angle SL. Arnold was used on projects such as Monster House, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, 2012, Alice in Wonderland, The Smurfs, Arthur Christmas and is being used on all upcoming SPI's films.[20]


Sony Pictures Imageworks has provided visual effects and digital animation for the following films:[21]

Year Films
1993 Last Action Hero
In the Line of Fire
So I Married an Axe Murderer
Striking Distance (previsualization, uncredited)
Mr. Jones (titles only)
Rudy (titles only)
Look Who's Talking Now (titles and visual effects)
My Life
The Pelican Brief (falcon jet air to air shot)
1994 Guarding Tess (titles only)
Blankman (blankwheel screen graphics and plate supervision)
1995 Hideaway
Tall Tale
Die Hard with a Vengeance
Johnny Mnemonic (cyberspace sequence)
Judge Dredd (additional digital compositing)
The Net (plane crash sequence)
Virtuosity (computer-generated tendril animation)
Money Train (money train wreck sequence/digital composites)
1996 James and the Giant Peach (computer-animated water/sharks/seagulls)
The Craft
The Cable Guy
The Ghost and the Darkness
Turma da Mônica Quadro a Quadro (only in video)
1997 Anaconda
Turma da Mônica O Mônico (only in video)
Starship Troopers
The Postman
As Good as It Gets
1998 The Replacement Killers
Sphere (end sequence)
City of Angels
The Big Hit
Turma da Mônica O Plano Sangrento (only in video)

You've Got Mail (titles only)
Patch Adams
1999 Big Daddy
The Astronaut's Wife (alien effects)
The ProprietorThe Ninth Gate
Jakob the Liar
Stuart Little
Snow Falling on Cedars
2000 What Planet Are You From?
What Lies Beneath
Hollow Man
Charlie's Angels
Cast Away
2001 Evolution (flatworm animation sequence)
America's Sweethearts
Riding in Cars with Boys
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
2002 Spider-Man
Men in Black II
The ChubbChubbs!
Stuart Little 2
The Tuxedo
I Spy
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
2003 Darkness Falls
Anger Management
Identity (digital color timing)
Early Bloomer
The Matrix Reloaded
Hollywood Homicide
Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle
Bad Boys II
Matchstick Men
The Matrix Revolutions
The Haunted Mansion
Big Fish
Peter Pan
2004 50 First Dates
Spider-Man 2
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
Little Black Book
The Forgotten
The Polar Express
Christmas with the Kranks
The Aviator
2005 Cursed
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
2006 Click
Superman Returns
Monster House
Open Season
The Holiday
2007 Ghost Rider
Spider-Man 3
Surf's Up
The ChubbChubbs Save Xmas
Blade Runner: The Final Cut (visual effects enhancement)[22]
The Jane Austen Book Club
I Am Legend
2008 Speed Racer
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
You Don't Mess with the Zohan
Eagle Eye
Body of Lies
2009 Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
Michael Jackson's This Is It
2010 Alice in Wonderland
Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore
2011 The Green Hornet
Just Go with It
Green Lantern
Captain America: The First Avenger
The Smurfs
Arthur Christmas
2012 Men in Black 3
The Amazing Spider-Man
Hotel Transylvania
Here Comes the Boom
2013 Oz: The Great and Powerful
The Smurfs 2
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2
2014 Captain America: The Winter Soldier
The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Edge of Tomorrow
22 Jump Street
Deliver Us from Evil
Guardians of the Galaxy
American Sniper
The Interview
2015 Pixels
Hotel Transylvania 2
2016 The Angry Birds Movie
Alice Through the Looking Glass
Suicide Squad
2017 Smurfs: The Lost Village
Spider-Man: Homecoming
The Emoji Movie
Kingsman: The Golden Circle
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
2018 Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation
The Meg
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
2019 Men in Black: International
Spider-Man: Far From Home
The Angry Birds Movie 2
Zombieland: Double Tap (Columbia Pictures opening variant only)
Jumanji: The Next Level
2020 Mulan

Over the Moon



See also


  1. ^ Derdeyn, Stuart (September 22, 2017). "Vancouver's Sony Pictures Imageworks is on the cutting edge of VFX industry". The Vancouver Sun. Postmedia Network. Retrieved 2018.
  2. ^ Bruce Constantineau (May 28, 2014). "Sony Pictures Imageworks to move head office to Vancouver". The Vancouver Sun. Retrieved 2014.
  3. ^ "Sony Pictures - Divisions". Retrieved 2015.
  4. ^ "Sony Pictures Imageworks".
  5. ^ Halbfinger, David M. (October 31, 2007). "Sony Said to Be Pondering Partial Sale of Movie Units". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014.
  6. ^ Failes, Ian (August 30, 2012). "From Speed to Spidey: 20 years of VFX and animation". FX Guide. Retrieved 2014.
  7. ^ a b c S. Cohen, David (January 21, 2014). "Sony Imageworks Shifting Staff From L.A. to Vancouver; Layoffs Feared". Variety. Retrieved 2015.
  8. ^ Tito A. Belgrave (September 8, 2003). "Making Waves with Early Bloomer". Retrieved 2010.
  9. ^ "Sony Pictures picks up 51% in FrameFlow" (Press release). FrameFlow via The Economic Times. February 20, 2007. Retrieved 2010.
  10. ^ IANS (April 11, 2008). "Sony Imageworks opens visual effects studio in Chennai". Retrieved 2011.
  11. ^ a b Verrier, Richard (February 29, 2012). "Sony ImageWorks to Close New Mexico Viz Effects Unit". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2015.
  12. ^ "Albuquerque Studios Sees Special Effects of SONY Imageworks Deal in New Mexico" (Press release). Albuquerque Studios via PRWeb. May 20, 2007. Retrieved 2010.
  13. ^ Kamercik, Megan (February 29, 2012). "Sony Pictures Imageworks to leave New Mexico". New Mexico Business Weekly. Retrieved 2012.
  14. ^ MacInnis, Tara (August 14, 2012). "How Sony's Vancouver studios give Canadian animators home field advantage". National Post. Retrieved 2015.
  15. ^ Etan, Vlessing (February 3, 2012). "Sony Pictures Imageworks Expands Canadian Outpost". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2015.
  16. ^ S. Cohen, David (May 29, 2014). "Sony Imageworks Moving HQ to Vancouver". Variety. Retrieved 2015.
  17. ^ S. Cohen, David (January 29, 2014). "Sony Imageworks India to Shut Down (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved 2014.
  18. ^ Marchand, Francois (July 10, 2015). "Sony Pictures Imageworks unveils new Vancouver headquarters". The Vancouver Sun. Retrieved 2015.
  19. ^ Lu, Cecilia (July 29, 2015). "12 photos inside Sony Pictures Imageworks new downtown Vancouver HQ". Vancity Buzz. Retrieved 2015.
  20. ^ Haines, Eric (July 20, 2010). "Marcos and Arnold". Ray Tracing News. Retrieved 2010.
  21. ^ "About". Sony Pictures Imageworks. Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. Retrieved 2018.
  22. ^ Robinson, April. "My journey to "Blade Runner 2049"". Autodesk. Retrieved 2019.

External links

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