After 26 years Illusion Arts is closing, another victim of the global financial crisis and the severe pressure on effects houses. The loss of Illusion Arts is particularly upsetting given the history of the company; it is one of the oldest and most respected specialist facilities in the industry.

Variety is reporting that co-founder Syd Dutton will join Culver City-based vfx shop Zoic Studios as art director and lead matte artist. Bill Taylor will resume being a freelance vfx supervisor and vfx DOP.
Since 1985 Illusion Arts was owned by Bill Taylor and Syd Dutton after starting life as the Universal Pictures matte painting 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" reported Variety.

"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, but at the shutdown, there was nine staff. The company started pre digital - moving to digital in about 1992. Credits include over a 100 films such as Star Trek: First Contact, The Time Machine, and The Bourne Identity.

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  • Today is a sad day for matte painters and fans of matte painting. Thanks for the news, albeit bad. Mike, I know how much you appreciate Illusion Arts and their wonderful body of work. So thanks again.

    I blogged about it as well.

  • Mike,

    I posted this comment on Matt Scheuerman’s blog, but wanted to share it here.

    I worked for Syd and Bill for eleven years. They made my career. Syd has always been the most talented of mentors and teachers. Just look at the success of artists that have been discovered by and worked for Syd and Bill. Robert Stromberg, Mike Wassel, Rocco Gioffre, Robert Schifo, Justin Brandstater, Kenneth Nakada, Andrew Tucker, Fumi Mashimo, Alp Altiner, Dylan Cole, and myself. Google any one of those names and you will see the wealth of contributions that Illusion Arts graduates have made to the industry. I appreciate the acknowledgement that you have given to a very important company that will be sorely missed by the industry. Zoic is very lucky to have Syd coming their way. He is a true master of the arts.


    Kelvin McIlwain