Over the last twenty years, I have had the pleasure of working closely with many digital artists from around the world including many in our own backyard - Toronto. With local studios C.O.R.E. Digital Pictures and later C.O.R.E. Feature Animation, I have had the opportunity to watch an amazing group of artists come together and create fantastic work. I was therefore sad to hear when C.O.R.E. suspended operations on March 15, 2010 taking with it a seemingly permanent fixture within the Houdini community.
Since incorporation in 1994, C.O.R.E. has been the leader in the Canadian digital animation scene. They led the way in so many respects and much of the talent around Toronto worked at C.O.R.E. at one time or another. C.O.R.E. was a pioneer in Toronto and certainly a large and well-rounded one. They wrote software, did VFX for films and TV, animated TV shows and animated Disney’s The Wild, the first CG feature done in Toronto. Most recently, they produced visual effects for the wildly successful series The Tudors and the soon-to-be-released movie Splice.
At Side Effects, we were very proud when C.O.R.E. chose Houdini as the main application for the feature film pipeline used to create The Wild. Their confidence in Houdini’s ability to scale beyond VFX work to full CG animation helped us push our own technology in new directions. We had an opportunity to develop software that was in production the next day and with several of our developers working onsite at C.O.R.E. we learned a lot about what it meant to be production-ready. The lessons we learned during this exciting period are still with us today as Houdini continues to grow and evolve.
Bob Munroe, John Mariella and Kyle Menzies, three of C.O.R.E.s’ co-founders, are talents that mesh so well. Bob has always been very generous with his time, sitting on Sheridan Animation Advisory Board, as past chairman of the board of directors of Canadian Film Centre, as well as giving interviews and presentations. John is a talented animator and technical director who also sat on Sheridan Advisory Board. John has given us a lot of feedback over the years that has helped shape the Houdini we have today. Kyle is an extremely gifted artist who cares deeply for his craft.
Toronto Star article from February 18, 1995 announcing C.O.R.E.'s launch
Over the years, we worked closely with many artists at C.O.R.E. and got to know so many wonderful people. They all contributed to making C.O.R.E. a great company and many of them provided valuable feedback to us at Side Effects. Luckily many of the artists from C.O.R.E. continue to be active members of the Houdini community in all parts of the world. We often find ourselves meeting with a new customer only to find a veteran from C.O.R.E. on hand to speak up for Houdini. It always makes us feel good to have a friend in the audience.
Within the local community, C.O.R.E. was a founding member of CASO a non-profit trade association representing the digital animation and visual effects community in Ontario, Canada. This organization is active in the local community and has already mobilized to help former staff from C.O.R.E. quickly transition to other facilities in the region.
I trust that one day, a complete history of C.O.R.E.’s contributions will be written and shared so that everyone can see and remember. We at Side Effects acknowledge and thank them for their contributions to our success. We will miss C.O.R.E. as will the Toronto animation community. We fully expect to see Bob, John, Kyle and the rest of the talented team at C.O.R.E. back contributing to the Toronto production scene in the near future.
PS - "Joined at the .hip" was the tagline created by Bob Munroe for a t-shirt handed out at the recruiting party for The Wild. Whenever we are traveling the world and we find someone wearing one of those shirts, we are happy to see first-hand the extent of C.O.R.E.'s reach in the global CG community.