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DISNEY, DQI TO FORM THE SECRET LAB : NEW ENTITY FOR VISUAL EFFECTS WILL BE BASED IN BURBANK.

Byline: Dave McNary Staff Writer

The Walt Disney Co., in an apparent nod to the massive amount of top-secret work once performed in Burbank, announced Wednesday it has formed a new entity called The Secret Lab for visual effects work.

Disney said the Burbank-based TSL operation - created by merging Dream Quest Image's artistic and management team from Simi Valley with Disney's Feature Animation computer-graphics operation - will be headquartered at its Northside facility on Thornton Avenue just east of the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport.

The four-story Northside building was occupied until 1994 by Lockheed Corp.'s Skunk Works division, which built the U-2 and SR-71 spy planes and the F-117A stealth fighter. Lockheed, as part of its withdrawal from its one-time headquarters in Burbank, sold what it called Building 90 in 1995 to developer M. David Paul, who renovated it for Disney's animation division.

Disney did not indicate how many Dream Quest Image managers and employees will go to work for TSL, which will provide visual effects and computer-generated character animation for Disney's live action and animated films. DQI's physical production facilities - such as model shops, engineering and stages - will remain in Simi Valley.

DQI, which was purchased by Disney in 1996, has produced special effects for ``Con Air,'' ``The Rock,'' ``Armageddon'' and ``Mighty Joe Young.'' DQI spokeswoman Mary Riordan said several groups of DQI employees had already started working in Burbank and added that the creation of TSL is not expected to lead to job losses among the 225 DQI employees.

``If anything, this should lead to an expansion for us,'' said Riordan, who added that DQI has been recruiting new employees. ``I would imagine that our plate is going to be very full.''

TSL will be supervised by Thomas Schumacher, president of Disney Feature Animation. Andrew Millstein, DQI's vice president and general manager, will oversee operations.

Feature Animation computer-graphics unit's credits include work on ``Beauty and the Beast,'' ``The Lion King,'' ``The Hunchback of Notre Dame,'' ``Hercules,'' ``Mulan'' and ``Tarzan.'' It is finishing work on ``Dinosaur,'' its first in-house feature and a project that already has generated significant positive buzz in advance of its May opening.

DQI's current work includes effects for ``Bicentennial Man,'' ``Gone in 60 Seconds,'' ``Mission to Mars,'' ``102 Dalmatians,'' ``Shanghai Noon'' and the World War II epic ``Tennessee.''

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photo

PHOTO (color) Hoyt Yeatman, left, and Richard Hoover of Dream Quest Images of Simi Valley stand with some props from the movie ``Armegeddon.''

Tom Mendoza/Staff Photographer
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 28, 1999
Words:411
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