Deluxe, Technicolor join forces in Vancouver

VANCOUVER — In a historic move, the two largest competitors in the post industry — Deluxe and Technicolor — have joined forces in Vancouver to run a film lab.

The two companies have ‘agreed on a joint venture’ to merge their film labs and create the Vancouver Laboratory Inc., according to a recent memo from Technicolor to it clients.

The lab is an equal partnership between Deluxe and Technicolor, effective April 25.

‘This is an unprecedented move to have two rival companies consolidating resources in Vancouver,’ says James Tocher at Digital Film Central.

The Vancouver Lab will not perform any marketing or sales functions — it is a film processing facility only. Technicolor and Deluxe will continue to sell services individually and bill clients for work that will be subcontracted to the joint venture lab.

Representatives at Deluxe and Technicolor declined interview requests. But sources in the post industry note that the film lab business has faced hard times in Vancouver over the past couple years, with both Deluxe and Technicolor laying off staff last fall.

‘We have had multiple strikes over the past few years, a tax credit that doesn’t perform as well as Ontario and other provinces, the recession, and the dollar going to par,’ explains Tocher. ‘The Olympics didn’t help either. It scared away production. It hasn’t been a happy time in the industry overall.’

Another factor is the advancement of digital file formats such as the RED camera, which is reducing the need for film processing.

Vancouver’s proximity to Hollywood also means that post work is typically sent back to L.A.

‘It’s to nobody’s surprise that the volume of processing going through labs for dailies has been drastically reduced over the past couple years and the labs have suffered quite severely,’ adds Finale Editworks president Don Thompson.

He points out that Vancouver doesn’t have local distributors like Toronto and Montreal so labs cannot rely on the print business as a revenue stream.

The local industry says the joint venture is the best possible solution in order to keep a film lab running in Vancouver. The alternative — both labs closing — would have been disastrous to the local film market.

‘This joint venture ultimately provides security to filmmakers that there will still be a lab here to cater to their needs,’ says Thompson. ‘It was the right decision for the Vancouver film community.’

According to the Technicolor memo, the joint venture lab will be housed at the current Deluxe Lab in Vancouver and Technicolor will close its facility and relocate its lab staff to the Deluxe location. It will be lead by Technicolor lab manager JF Blain.

Layoffs from the deal total about six people between the two companies.

Sources in the Vancouver production community suggest that this groundbreaking deal is only the beginning and further collaboration between Deluxe and Technicolor is expected if the joint venture proves successful. A merging of their telecine work in Vancouver could be the next deal on the table.