Lightstream Animation Studios
Location: Petaluma, CA
Year Started: 2007
What We Do: Lightstream Animation Studios specializes in visual storytelling and special effects for animated films
Lightstream Animation Studios was founded in 2007 by Jamy Wheless and John Helms, veterans of George Lucas’ Industrial Light & Magic (ILM). Working for over a decade on such blockbuster hits as Star Wars: Episode I and III, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Transformers, the duo wanted to refocus their efforts on being part of the storytelling process. “Our passion has always been about telling stories and creating memorable characters,” explains Wheless. Unlike the traditional studio system model where you implement an existing story blueprint, the duo now have the chance to create and develop original stories, along with animation and visual effects. Their latest project, The King's Daughter, a historical science fiction drama, starring Pierce Brosnan, Kaya Scodelario, William Hurt, and Chinese superstar Fan Bingbing, is slated for release in 2016.
Why Sonoma County?
Wheless and Helmes chose Sonoma County as the headquarters for Lighstream Animation Studios because it offers a small-town, friendly vibe where people know each other. “There is a culture of community. Since we moved here, the community has reached out and given us a hand whenever we needed it.” When Lightstream Animation was searching for a place to screen their daily film footage, they only had to stroll one block from their offices to Petaluma’s Boulevard Cinemas where owner David Corkill offered them free screening space. “Film industry colleagues coming up from Los Angeles, always get a kick out of watching the movie dailies like a real audience with popcorn too," chuckles Wheless. Helms adds, “By locating in Sonoma County, we are building a creative team that wants to stay here because it offers our employees a high quality of life outside of work.”