Rob Bredow Leaves Sony Imageworks for Industrial Light & Magic (EXCLUSIVE)

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Chief technology officer won't make move to Vancouver

One of the open questions about Sony Imageworksmove from Culver City to Vancouver is whether its key talent will be willing to immigrate to Canada to stay with Sony.

In the case of one of Imageworks’ most prominent employees, chief technology officer Rob Bredow, the answer seems to be “No.”

Bredow is leaving Imageworks for rival Industrial Light & Magic, where he will be a visual effects supervisor. ILM is on board to be lead visual effects studio on the upcoming revival of the “Star Wars” series and is in the unusual position of having a predictable, steady stream of work for about the next decade. Therefore the company is expanding, hiring staff and making long-term investments.

“I’m thrilled to be joining Industrial Light & Magic and their renowned team of supervisors,” Bredow told Variety in an email. “It’s truly an exciting time in the company’s history with new ‘Star Wars’ films in production and so many other amazing projects currently in the works. I’m looking forward to working closely with the team and participating in filmmaking process at ILM.”

ILM’s chief creative officer, John Knoll, said: “Rob brings with him a long history of both creative and technical expertise. We have worked closely with him on the development and promotion of the Alembic open source initiative and we’re excited to add him to our ranks as ILM continues to grow worldwide.”

Bredow has long held the CTO title for Imageworks, but was an effects animator before taking that executive post. His credits include “The Polar Express,” “Stuart Little 2” and “Cast Away.” He was vfx supervisor on Sony’s animated “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs.”

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  1. XProse says:

    Rob IS a class-act. He was the single bright light amongst the New Order Of Bean Infatuated Executive Sycophants (NOOBIES). Been in and out of Imageworks for years- more than ten- and yet remain in Culver City. It’s become clear though, that my freelance/bittersweet career to and fro there, was a blessing in disguise: I lost 401k continuity, profit-sharing, and was forced into Cobra healthcare four different times and began anew upon each return. Took a slight pay-cut even upon my last return a few years back. Is that why I haven’t been given the ultimatum? Probably.

    Imageworks has always been top-heavy. To be honest, I can’t say I didn’t agree with some of the journeyman cuts they made a handful of years ago. When there are more execs and assistants than artists, something is definitely wrong. Beyond that, though, things have gone haywire under RL and BO, both NOOBIES.

    To witness, in these past weeks, the release of specifically nine year vets (that incidentally built and maintained Imageworks’ infrastructure) simply to defray the costs of whatever ‘ten years’ meant to their all-important bottom-line, while announcing plans to build a pricey new HQ in a temporal haven for short-lived subsidies, illustrates to me the complete lack of understanding these NOOBIES have for what it takes to be stand-up in the vfx business; and more so, what it takes to be legitimate in the animated film-business.

    Disney, Dreamworks and ILM have each made concessions in terms of dealing with the realities of a world economy, while at the same time maintaining a decorum of culture and continuity in terms of their core brain-trust of artists and technicians. Sony Imageworks’ NOOBIES are overly concerned with the ledger, which puts them (and me) into the category of ‘goodbye’. I’m going to go where the smart people go: Rob is off to ILM- at least they’re not NOOBIES.

    Senior Artist (still called that by the NOOBIES despite my actual ‘title/credit’ in films). Yep.

  2. Urban Reason says:

    A lot of talk here about Rob not being keen on Vancouver but I’d like to point out that Rob was on the list of people they’d be keeping in Culver City, and even the colossal lack of vision exuded by Bob Osher and Randy Lake couldn’t have guided them to push one of the most incredible CTO’s in the business out the door by pushing him to do something he didn’t want to do.

    If you don’t know this already: Rob is an absolutely brilliant guy, an artistic and technical genius really. If you ask me that kind of brilliance can only persist for so long in an environment where the only directives are “cheaper” & “faster”. As far as creativity and innovation go, at Imageworks Rob’s brilliance was clearly limited and constrained by these objectives and there was little room to stray beyond them.

    What ILM is now doing is far more interesting to anyone with a creative bone in their body. Innovation and creativity still exist there and Rob will no doubt be injecting the veins of ILM with a huge dose of that.

    If he left Imageworks for anything having to do with Vancouver, my guess would be that it was because he can see just as clearly as the rest of us that Bob Osher and Randy Lake’s strategies are poorly conceived, flawed & short-sighted. They devalue creativity and innovation to such a degree that they only exist at Imageworks in spite of them, as the most talented and creative artists and engineers – many of whom helped build that place – were seen as little more than digits on a spreadsheet and treated as such. I have little faith that Imageworks will survive the massive leak of braintrust Bob and Randy have introduced and the utterly abysmal morale they’ve incited.

    Personally I can’t wait to see what Rob does now that he’s unchained. I can only imagine how incredible it’s going to be.

  3. vfxpro says:

    Vancouver IS awesome. If you don’t want to relocate there then don’t. Go work at Disney, DWA, Weta, Animal Logic, or any of the half dozen fx shops in LA, London, Montreal, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, etc. It’s a global biz now guys. Sorry, get over it. No one cares about your whining anymore. Let the world know how those CVD’s and tariffs and other lawsuits work out while the vfx industry completes its transition to a fully global industry.

    And for what it’s worth Mr. Cohen, ILM has a thriving and 200+ person strong office in Vancouver as well and London. I don’t know Rob Bredow, but I doubt your little sub-headline taking a shot at him not moving to Vancouver has anything to do with this.

    • Urban Reason says:

      Nobody said Vancouver isn’t awesome bright eyes. They just don’t want to uproot their lives, sell their homes, move their families, and leave behind the networks of friends and contacts they’ve built up through the years for something that to the rational observer appears completely unsustainable. Eventually, maybe when you’re a little older, you’ll understand that this isn’t just about how flippin’ awesome you personally think a city is – be it LA, San Francisco, Vancouver, London.

      Most people have already moved their lives across the country or the world at least once just to be a part of this industry. Many of us have moved multiple times. We can either “accept” that we are the pawns of CEOs and corporations who give zero sh*ts about artists and our lives, and move around at their whims (and often on our own dime) as you suggest. Or we can rise up and stand for our f*#king independence. When you’re mature, principled and compassionate enough to appreciate what that means, I hope you’ll come and join us.

    • Josh says:

      Its not global biz. Its bribery. In violation of written WTO trade laws.

      The BC government is giving away taxpayer money to RENT and industry. And at a loss at that. These subsidies don’t pay for themselves.

    • WhataboutBob? says:

      Take away the subsidies and the Vancouver VFX industry would dry up like Imageworks in Albuquerque.

  4. minoton says:

    If Vancouver was so freaking awesome, as Bob and Randy tried to pitch to the artists and others they asked to uproot and relocate there for a pittance in moving costs, one has to wonder why haven’t they permanently relocated up there themselves? I hear they like expensive cars up in Vancity, too! What say you, guys?

  5. Ex-Imageworks says:

    Act 1
    Scene 1

    About 200 Imageworks employees working over the weekend are eating lunch outside on a Saturday after months and months of 10-12 hour days, 6/7 days a week.

    Enter Bob Osher.

    “What is the special occasion? It’s good to see everyone socializing and getting together on a weekend.”

    True story.

    • WhataboutBob? says:

      Well, in Bob’s defense I just have to say….no, wait cant do it. That comment is indefensible. As Bugs Bunny would say, “What a maroon!”

  6. SPIt_4ever says:

    Rob is a class act through and through. I worked with him on a hand full of projects at Imageworks back in the Sarnoff/Fulle days (well before anemic duo of Osher/Lake started their rein of layoffs and shortsightedness). This is a smart move for Bredow and a telling move for those remaining at SPI. For those still at Imageworks: Culver City, look up the name Wallace Henry Hartley he may be your new patron saint.

  7. MonoStereo says:

    Earth to Imageworks: not everyone is peachy keen about moving to Vancouver, and senior talent is going to walk away rather than cave. You can have an army of artists but the brain trust is leaving in droves. Then what? You’ll have an office full of artists with no leadership. Senior talent is thin on the ground in Vancouver and “move to Vancouver and we’ll give you a promotion” only works on those who want/need a promotion.

    First-rate CTO’s in Vancouver that can meet or exceed Rob Bredow? More like bargain basement managers that Imageworks will hire to try and fill Rob’s shoes. I wish them the best, but qualified CTO’s aren’t as plentiful as junior animators.

    It seems like any non-client-facing positions are being exported to Canada, and CTO would fit the bill. It’s too bad: Imageworks had all the pieces to be a great studio and they blew it by acting like a corporation rather than a visual effects studio.

    • VFXInsider says:

      “Imageworks had all the pieces to be a great studio and they blew it by acting like a corporation rather than a visual effects studio.”

      Having been at several major studios including Rob’s present and future home, I couldn’t agree more. Imageworks HAD the talent and the technology to crush competition and compete with ILM and Weta if they’d just empowered the right people to leverage it. But when you put people in charge who run the place like an OfficeMax, with all the vision and charisma you’d expect from someone like that, you get joke of a company and the utterly dull and uninspiring bottom-dweller Imageworks/SPA has become.

      • VFXInsider says:

        <–And I mean that as no insult to the artists who remain there. But anyone who's ever peered inside knows that artists are forced to operate at a fraction of their capabilities on projects that no one cares about, thanks largely to the brilliant leadership of Bob & Randy: Two of the most dull & uninteresting people in the universe who refuse to step back and empower people (their prized and unappreciated genndy tartakovsky for example) to make things they're passionate about.

  8. VFXInsider says:

    “Believe me, you don’t want to be at a company where there is more candor in the hallways than in the rooms where fundamental ideas or matters of policy are being hashed out.”

    “Your employees are smart; that’s why you hired them. So treat them that way. They know when you deliver a message that’s been heavily massaged.”

    “Remember, people are more important than ideas.”

    ~ Ed Catmul quotes from the front page of Rob’s blog. A pretty clear glimpse inside his motivations, I’d think.

  9. dan edwards says:

    Good for Rob! When I was at SPI not only was he freakishly knowledgeable, but he was also one of the nicest guys in the building. No nonsense, straight forward, talented, and in general the type of guy who makes tough situations suck a whole lot less. Congrats to ILM on their new hire.

  10. X-SPI says:

    Rob Bredow, is one of the nicest, smartest and most professional men in the biz. He’s leaving a cushy CTO spot to go back into the trenches of production. Not only that but he’s relocating out of sunny Los Angeles to foggy San Fransisco. To this watcher from the stands that seems like a big “Screw you Bob O and Co” Kudos to ILM, you have yourself a winner with Rob. He’ll help you accomplish amazing things. Imageworks, it’s your loss, but hey you still have Ralston and Redd, for now anyway.

  11. ILM are terrible at CGI, maybe this guy can sort them out.

  12. VFXInsider says:

    For those of you who don’t know Imageworks: THIS IS SIGNIFICANT.

    Rob is a GIANT. The backbone of Imageworks, he was at the helm of many of the technological innovations and the complex/robust pipeline Imageworks is so well-known for. He was also the ONLY person in the top tier at Imageworks who seemed to have an ounce of vision left, who truly contributed to the facility, and who could effortlessly shift between technology and creativity. He was also the last person I would have ever expected to leave.

    His role at the facility can not be overstated, nor can the significance of his departure. Rob was not your ordinary CTO and there are very few people who could fill his shoes. Chances are anyone that could is already comfortable at ILM, Pixar, or maybe WETA.

    While we obviously do not know the motivations behind his departure, I’d like to believe it was because he had enough respect for the artists there to not want to be a party to the destructive practices of Bob and Randy and the stress and havoc it was wreaking on the lives of all the talented hard-working artists who made it great. If so, my level of respect for him has increased immensely.

    Congrats on the new gig Rob. ILM is lucky to have you. (and may the lord have mercy on Imagework’s soul)

    • ImageJerk says:

      First they came for the artists, but I said nothing since I was not an artist.
      Then they came for the IT staff, but I said nothing since I was not a tech guy.
      Then they came for the producers and supervisors but I said noting since I was not a producer or supervisor.
      Finally they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me.

  13. BCIT Boy says:

    Plenty of 1st rate CTO’s in Vancouver or people who would love to live there. Plus he’s moving into a creative job, not taking another CTO position.

    • VFXInsider says:

      Ah yes, the “everyone is replaceable” argument. Bob Osher, is that you?

      • SPIt_4ever says:

        As a wise-man (named Tim Sarnoff) once said, “Graveyards are filled with irreplaceable people”. There will come a time when Lake and Osher will have served their purpose and will be shown the door at SPI and as they’ll probably be the last two in the Culver City offices let’s hope they remember to turn out the lights.

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