UAlbany Helps Boost Region's Coolness Factor

Special effect done by BranchVFX LLC.

ALBANY, N.Y. (November 14, 2017) — UAlbany's expanding START-UP NY portfolio has drawn results: A special-effects firm with New York City and Los Angeles offices will open a new branch in Albany.

BranchVFX LLC, an off-shoot of Shade VFX, is a boutique special effects supplier providing foundational effects services to the film and television industry. Shade VFX has offices in Santa Monica, Calif., and New York, NY, while Branch VFX will be based locally at 384 Broadway in Albany. The Albany location enables the fast-growing company to offer lower costs to their clients by reducing overhead, increasing output and keeping all services in New York State, which helps to preserve customers’ eligibility for New York State’s post-production tax credits.

“The University at Albany is excited to have a world-class special effects company like Branch VFX join our START-UP NY portfolio,” said Matt Grattan, director, community and economic development at UAlbany. “This is another testament to the work the Capital Region Economic Development Council is doing to attract and promote the impact of the creative economy and the marriage of the arts and technology.”

Industry veteran Bryan Godwin founded Shade VFX in 2009 to address an unmet need for high integrity, efficient and creative collaboration in the visual effects space. Eight years later, it is one of the most successful boutiques in the business, built on a rock-solid technological pipeline. Branch VFX was born of a need for domestically located services for baseline VFX tasks such as rotoscoping, 3D tracking and paintwork.

“Nearly every part of visual effects production is built on these foundational tasks, which are frequently outsourced to Asia and even Canada,” explains Godwin. “There are a multitude of reasons to keep these tasks domestic and most importantly, keep costs low. Additionally, overseas outsourcing reduces companies’ competitive edge through long feedback loops, extreme time differences, language barriers and general quality control. Branch VFX helps clients mitigate all of those conflicts while keeping their bottom line and tax rebates intact.”

Shade VFX’s filmography profile highlights its film industry partners, while Branch VFX in Albany will serve as one of the few “Tier One” approved vendors for Disney/Marvel/Pixar/Lucas and will also pass security requirements for Fox, Sony and the Motion Picture Association of America.

Within its first five years in Albany, Branch VFX has committed to hiring 16 new employees, with positions including executive producer, 2D and 3D leads, IT technician, production coordinator, production artist, bookkeeper and production assistant.

“It’s a win-win for us to develop strong relationships with universities such as UAlbany,” Godwin said. “It allows Branch VFX to take advantage of the excellent technical and administrative talent in the Albany area, while providing internships in the areas of digital arts, communication arts and software development.”

The organization also plans to invest nearly $140,000 in its Albany headquarters within its first five years for production machinery, specialized equipment, furniture and fixtures.

“Branch VFX’s investment is a prime example of the success of state, regional and local downtown revitalization efforts,” said Capitalize Albany Corporation President Sarah Reginelli. “The local presence of a dynamic and exciting company like Branch VFX accelerates the recent game-changing momentum in downtown Albany. The Governor’s support of this vision – bringing together an institution generating a pipeline of world-class talent, pairing it with a distinguished ‘Tier One’ company, and fostering its growth in a walk-able, urban setting – is a critical component of sustainable, local economic growth.”

UAlbany’s START-UP NY Portfolio
Under the state's START-UP NY program, UAlbany targets business partnerships within the framework of the campus' academic mission, capitalizing on strategic priorities in areas such as climate, environmental and economic sustainability; emerging technologies; human health and biomedical sciences; public service and policy; business and entrepreneurship; and liberal arts and sciences. UAlbany's expanding START-UP NY portfolio currently includes seven companies projected to create 79 new jobs over a five-year period.

To be eligible to partner with UAlbany in a START-UP NY initiative, businesses must be a new company or start-up, an out-of-state company relocating or expanding to New York State, or an expansion of a business currently based in New York State. Businesses that meet those criteria and the law’s requirement that they align with or further the University’s academic mission may operate tax-free for 10 years, while net new employees are exempt from state personal income taxes.

For more information about partnering with the University, please contact UAlbany’s Director of Community and Economic Development, Matt Grattan.


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About the University at Albany
A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany-SUNY offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciencesbusiness, public health, health sciences, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.