Friday, April 02, 2010

"Pixel Magic to make 100 hires in Lafayette"

An update on today's Advertiser website says that Pixel Magic has committed to hiring a 100 artists to work at its new Lafayette location. They will work at rendering "old" 2-D films into new 3-D formats. That type of boost to the digital arts community plants the sort of seed that every community is looking for these days. It is the potential beginning of a hothouse economy built around the digital visual arts. 100 highly trained visual 'magicians' will have to have something to do in their off time...and some other personal projects to keep their juices flowing. For Lafayette it's those spin-offs that will be the real payoff. [If the economic development people haven't put aside some petty cash to sponsor a visual arts club for kids built around these folks as the core group then they aren't doing their job. It's stunning how much real development has sprung from cold pizza and warm coke...]

Looking for some of that work? From the article:

Pixel Magic will work with Louisiana FastStart to provide training for interested candidates. Knowledge of stereoscopic 3-D is a plus, but anyone with a visual arts background is eligible.

Candidates who are selected will complete a specialized training course taught by Pixel Magic artists. The course will be taught over 2-3 weeks starting May 2.

This announcement a tremendous success for LITE. And Louisiana, and Lafayette, and, I very strongly suspect, LUS Fiber (even though utility companies seldom get a fair share of the glory).

Pixel Magic is the real item—it's not a start-up hoping to leverage the fallow assets of Lafayette into some star gig that lets them move up and out...it's a major established house that has come here because it can accomplish more of what it wants to do for less money than elsewhere. It's up to Lafayette and the region to set the hooks deep so that nobody ever wants to leave. Festival International will be a good start....and Mardi Gras and crawfish etouffe. [Never heard of Pixel Magic? Shame on you. Check out their site, with the Lafayette location prominently featured on the fly-in, and their list of movies, and, for real fun, go to the "reel" they've put up of special effects. Imagine being able to do that sort of stuff...it really does look like magic.]

Pixel Magic bringing employment to Lafayette is not the result of any simple, "silver bullet" approach to development. This had to look good to the company from a number of different angles. Starting at the state level a big chunk of their favorable decision has to be Louisiana's "aggressive" tax benefits for film and digital production. The company will get some extremely nice tax credits for the work that is done in the city. But that's not nearly enough. Many states have copied Louisiana's generosity. There's also Lafayette's location on big backbones like the Internet2 and LambdaRail consortiums. Shipping big buckets of bits back to Los Angeles won't be an issue. Then there's LITE itself—with a 3D rendering setup and multiple varieties of 3D visualization venues testing out films in settings from theatrical to flatscreens will be easy. LITE also has a couple of monster underutilized rendering farms on site. Pixel Magic no doubt gets a good deal and LITE gets a client that will actually use its massive facilities for more than a prestigious address.

Finally, we're down to LUS Fiber. You have to know if you've been down to "the egg" at the LITE building that they're not going to put 100 cubicle workers in that facility. No way they'd fit. However they do have to do the tedious work in Louisiana to get those credits. So some large percentage of those 100 workers will have to be off-site. But they'll have to be able to do their work as if they were in the same building with, at a minimum, the 100 megs of connectivity that standard ethernet LANs provide. That, of course, is exactly what LUS provides on its justly acclaimed 100 meg intranet. A person setting behind a nice workstation setup on Moss Avenue with a nice VLAN setup could work within the Pixel Magic network as if they were just down the hall from the boss's glossy corner office (something both would probably prefer). The ultimate in working from home. I'll not be surprised if Pixel Magic opts for an offsite work center like NuConn did—but there too LUS' fiber-to-every-nook-and-cranny make it possible to shop for the cheapest appropriate location rather than the cheapest location that has something close to real connectivity. In that sort of situation it would be easy and damned inexpensive to leverage LUS Fiber to provide a gig or several of commercial grade connection between the two points.

All of that taken together—each element individually impressive but not uniquely decisive—turned out to make Lafayette very hard to match.

The best thing is that this little coup will put the "three 'L's"—Lafayette, LITE and LUS Fiber on a lot of people's radar in the digital video arts. Rev up your motors guys....the race is now beginning.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

for every dollar they spend, the state pays them 30% +/- from the state treasury. Plus the LITE center is loosing money hand over fist. The bull about how PIXEL was attracted to the LITE is bull. Its the tax credits and the free rent. so what we have is an economic development philosphy which say subsudize the corporations and they will come. no joke.

The La. Film Tax credits will cost the taxpayers over $150 million in 09, and more in 10. and what do we get back 8% sales tax and 6% income tax.

Its not ecomomic development, it called corruption.

John said...

O (not so) brave anono,

You'll not get much argument from me about the civic wisdom of programs like this...though there are those who argue that the numbers work out, I'm not so sure. Be that as it may Louisiana is not alone—not nearly alone—in pursuing this sort of development policy. If you followed the link in the text you'll see this is particularly true about the "film" industry. So Pixel Magic is not bringing these good jobs to Lafayette only because of the tax credits. The entire argument of my piece was that carrying off such a coup was due to a combination of factors...and LITE's resources are a real factor in that. As is the potential for putting workers literally anywhere in the city for a negligible cost.

Lafayette is well positioned for a number of reasons that it is deservedly proud of...and Pixel Magic's decision can be a real seed for a new local industry that both brings in new blood and trains and hires locals...our oil and gas days are numbered.This announcement is good news.

Anonymous said...

not exactly sure how all this will pan out, but it does sound awesome.