Montreal-based Sphere Media drawn to capital’s animation scene

Bruno Dubé
Bruno Dubé

A Montreal-based film, TV and animation company is expanding to Ottawa next month and says it plans to create dozens of local jobs in a bid to tap into the region’s growing talent pool.

Sphere Media said this week its new office on Slater Street will open on May 1. CEO Bruno Dubé told OBJ the firm expects to hire more than 100 animators, including 50 or so in the National Capital Region, to work on projects that will be produced at the new Ottawa studio.

Dubé said the company was drawn to the region by its abundance of skilled artists and reputation for turning out high-quality animated productions, as well as its close proximity to Sphere’s existing offices in Montreal and Toronto.

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“We chose Ottawa because the conditions are ideal and the capital is an important market which represents a new pool of qualified talent for Sphere,” he said in an email, adding the firm was also lured by production incentives such as regional and animation tax credits.   

Among the productions the new Ottawa-based crew will be working on is Riley Rocket, a series from Sphere Media subsidiaries BGM and Oasis Animation that’s described as an “action-packed musical adventure comedy.” 

Dubé said another soon-to-be-announced original project will also be produced out of Ottawa, with more productions to come.

Founded in 1984, Sphere Media now has more than 200 employees. The firm already employs more than a dozen people in the Ottawa region, “who will now have the chance to work from an office instead of from home,” Dubé said.

The company joins a growing number of animation studios that have set up shop in the nation’s capital, which has long been an industry hotbed and hosts North America’s largest annual animation festival.

“Ottawa is known for its dynamic, well-established TV, film and animation industry,” Dubé said. “In a context of a labour shortage in our industry – like in most industries – we were interested in getting closer to a new pool of qualified talent for Sphere.”

Ottawa Film Office spokesperson Stephanie Davy said Sphere’s new office will “strengthen the city’s position as an attractive centre for the creation of live-action and animated productions” – an industry that now pumps more than $100 million a year into Ottawa’s economy.

While animation accounts for the majority of that economic activity, Ottawa’s live-action film and TV production industry generated a record $41 million in direct spending in 2021 despite dealing with the lingering economic effects of the pandemic. The film office recently hired a new commissioner, Sandrine Pechels de Saint Sardos, who officially assumes the role at the end of this month.

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