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Daemen Opens State-of-the-Art Visual Effects Facility
by Jordan Canahai
Marking an important milestone in a Buffalo Billion project targeting Western New York’s emerging film and television post-production industry, a newly completed nearly $2 million state-of-the-art visual effects facility was officially unveiled by Daemen College at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on December 5.
The celebration took place at the Daemen International Center for Excellence in Animation located in the Tri Main Center at 2495 Main Street in Buffalo. Daemen President Gary A. Olson, as well as other members of the Daemen community and dignitaries were in attendance. An open house for the community took place the following day on December 6.
The recently finished high-tech facility is the result of a year-long project launched with the formation of a college-business partnership between Daemen and Empire Visual Effects, a new post-production and animation company. The venture was funded by a $4.5 million Buffalo Billion grant, including $1.9 million to Daemen that was instrumental in outfitting the facility with the advanced equipment and spaces relevant to sophisticated visual effects work.
With this support, it also helped create Daemen’s four-month visual effects certificate program that educates students on post-production work in the film industry. Offered through the college’s Department of Visual and Performing Arts, the program serves as a professional pipeline to new jobs.
“With the new facility fully completed, it provides a rich environment for learning, training and business growth in the visual effects sector, making it mutually beneficial to our students and to Empire Visual Effects,” said Daeman President Gary A. Olson. “The region stands to gain from this unique collaborative effort that will fill a niche in a cutting-edge business and lead to job opportunities that are available right now.”
The almost 16,000-square-foot facility houses a new 79-seat theater and screening room, equipped with high-definition and 3D projection capabilities, surround sound, and a color editing suite. It is also home to a 20-student cutting-edge visual effects training studio, a green screen stage for an array of film and video production projects, and classroom and office spaces.
Dr. Michael Brogan, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college, cited the positive educational aspects of having the program’s learning community centralized at the site of Empire visual effects. “Being exposed daily to this type of innovative environment creates a more robust educational setting that’s substantially beneficial to visual effects students as they develop highly specialized skills while also connecting them to professional opportunities in a growing industry in our area,” he said.
Dr. Laura Watts Sommer, director of the Visual and Performing Arts Department, and others from Daemen were also present at the ribbon-cutting event. Also in attendance were Tim Clark, film commissioner of the Buffalo Niagara Film Office, Congressman Brian Higgins, Assemblyman Robin Schimminger, Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes, and Assemblyman Ray Walter.
The Buffalo Billion Investment Developmental Plan was developed by the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council (WNYREDC) at the request of Governor Andrew Cuomo. The plan encompasses an in depth analysis of the levers that drive Buffalo’s and the region’s growth within a global context, promotes strategies based upon Buffalo’s unique assets, and advances early initiatives for implementation.
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