MONTREAL — Nelvana, Canada’s largest animation producer, announced Tuesday that it has inked a deal to acquire Windlight Studios, a Minneapolis-based 3-D TV producer.

The Toronto-based Nelvana also said it will open a 3-D computer-generated imaging facility in Toronto.

The moves signal a significant shift into the 3-D animation business, said Nelvana co-CEO Patrick Loubert.

Nelvana, which already controls 16.7% of the outstanding shares in Windlight, has signed a letter of intent to pick up the remaining 83% of the shares for $2.17 million, to be paid with a mix of cash and Nelvana shares.

Several senior execs at Windlight, including prez Scott Dyer, will move to Toronto to help set up Nelvana’s 3-D studio, a 10,000-square-foot facility that will be housed right next to Nelvana’s main offices.

The 3-D plant should be in operation by early next year. The rest of the Windlight staff will remain in Minneapolis.

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