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Partnerships Build Upon Pittsburgh Film Industry


Pittsburgh's 31st Street Studios has announced new partnerships with three entities: Paramount On Location, Knight Vision Studios, and a portion of CMU's Entertainment Technology Center. The Paramount partnership will offer production support services including lighting, grip, and transportation services.

Carnegie Mellon University's Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) will begin housing some of its classes at the 31st Street Studios complex this semester.

"The Entertainment Technology Center is staying bang where it is on Technology Drive, but we are going to have a permanent presence here in the studio where students can come and work on their projects," said Anthony Daniels, a visiting professor at the ETC, though he's more commonly known as the voice of C-3PO in the Star Wars films.

Daniels said CMU's ETC brings students from all over the world to Pittsburgh, and has a presence all over the world as well.

As for Knight Vision, the motion capture and digital production company will create a Pittsburgh entity called Knight Vision 31. The company was founded by James Knight following his three and a half-year stint running motion capture for James Cameron's Avatar.

"We're very excited about coming to Pittsburgh," said Knight, "because of tax incentive, because of CMU, and because of the marvelous talent you have here in this town."

The tax incentive is a big draw for movie makers and Dawn Keezer, head of the Pittsburgh Film Office, said it's definitely boosted the region's economy.

"It's boosted it so well that we've brought in over $100 million in economic impact each year over the last three years. We said if we were building an industry, infrastructure would come, the companies would come, and that's happening. Because of the film tax credit, because of the work that's being done, because of the film work that is happening, these guys need to be here," said Keezer.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald called Pittsburgh the Hollywood of the East. He said it's been an exciting time with the industry bringing stars like Tom Cruise and Christian Bale to Pittsburgh, but he said that's not the best part of what's happening.

"What it really means to us is jobs, the fact that $300 million has come into our economy over the last four years because of the movie industry, the fact that we're converting an old steel mill, going from steelmaking to movie making," said Fitzgerald.

When complete, 31st Street Studios will be the largest sound stage outside of Los Angeles. The 300,000 square foot facility includes 10 stages and the capacity to host any size production.