Illusion Arts closes down

Visual effects shop opened 26 years ago

Visual effects shop Illusion Arts has shut its doors, continuing the dramatic shakeout of shingles in the post and vfx industry.

Owned by Bill Taylor and Syd Dutton, Illusion Arts, was one of the oldest vfx shops, having started 26 years ago as the Universal Pictures matte department. Drawing on that heritage, it specialized in digital environments and greenscreen, and was often called on to fix problems with composite shots from other shops.

“Milk” was its last major picture as lead shop, and it contributed to studio tentpoles including “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian” and “G.I. Joe.”

At its peak, the company employed about 30 people, many of whom were veterans of 20 years or more, but at the shutdown, there had been seven employees, excluding Taylor and Dutton.

Taylor will resume the career he had 26 years ago: freelance visual effects supervisor and vfx director of photography.

Dutton will join Culver City-based vfx shop Zoic Studios as art director and lead matte artist.

Dutton told Daily Variety he wasn’t sure if he would help Zoic build up its feature business, adding that “might not be a good idea.”

Taylor blamed much of the current shakeout on the tardiness of the state of California in enacting tax incentives to combat runaway production.

“At long last our state government has responded to the idea that the film industry is valuable to the state,” he said, “but it’s 10 years too late.”