WILSON — After 16 years in Los Angeles, the founders of ExodusFX moved their video special effects business to the East Coast three years ago, finally choosing the Eastern NC City of Wilson because of its gigabit municipal broadband network.

The boutique studio, which employs from 12 to 20 people depending on projects, first landed in West Virginia, which, says producer Brad Kalinoski, who founded ExodusFX with his wife Tinatsu Wallace, “Had terrible infrastructure.”

They had moved there to be close to Wallace’s family, but it wasn’t workable. West Virginia officials basically told the firm that finding the speeds it needed was impossible and prices cited to get much higher speeds were ridiculous.

So they went looking for high speeds at a normal price, even considering Kansas City’s Google fiber network. Then they found Wilson.

Wilson’s Greenlight municipal broadband network, he says, “Has been phenomenal. Above and beyond expectations. For the price, it’s amazing. Now any bandwidth problems are not ours, it’s clients who don’t have the speed.

What the company does

Not only that, he says the service is outstanding. “The guys here are helpful, knowledgeable and really quick. They show up on my doorstep in a hearbeat if I need them. It’s really impressive. We also just love the way they think in their planning for the future.”

In LA, it would cost from $1,5,00 to $3,000 a month or more to get the necessary high speed broadband connections if you could find them at all, he says. By moving to Wilson, the company helps keep much work from going to India or China by reducing its production costs, including cost of living as well as the much less expensive bandwidth it needs. In Wilson, they pay $150 a month for their dedicated fiber hookup.

The company does what’s called compositing – taking image elements and combining them and creating the world in which characters live. It also does paint and matte extracting and rotoscoping. Creating movies and TV today is largely a high technology effort, notes Kalinoski.

For instance, one of the 70 feature films and projects he worked on, “Black Swan,” had 350 visual effects, many of them subtle. “You’d have to watch it many times to catch them,” he says. “There are a lot of Easter Eggs.”

For the last four months, the firm has been finishing 300 special effects shots for upcoming TNT 10-episode series, “The Librarian.”

Work on top feature films and TV shows

Kalinoski says an early passion for monster movies spurred his desire to work in visual effects and his initial move to Los Angeles to pursue his dream. Previous projects he worked on at ExodusFX and other companies included Fury, with Brad Pitt, a Muppets movie, Captain America, Moonrise Kingdom, The Spirit, The King’s Speech, the final season of Lost, and multiple episodes of Boardwalk Empire. Working for other visual effects studios in LA, he was a compositor on projects such as all three Pirates of the Caribbean and Matrix movies.

At one time, Kalinoski says, “You needed a machine that cost $25,000 and software that cost $20,000 to $25,000. It’s amazing that now you can do it from a home office with a nicely built PC.” The software, he says, is still expensive, “But it’s more valuable now that you can use it from any location.”

It is unfortunate that the GOP-led North Carolina legislature did away the film incentives (tax breaks) that had stimulated productions here (such as Homeland shot in Charlotte its first two seasons, and numerous other TV and feature film projects). “We could have expanded on the four or five shows shot in NC and the movies made here, and they would have brought other businesses here (to the state) as well, but politicians screwed that up,” Kalinoski says.

He adds that he knows a German company had planned to do three features in NC, which would have brought millions in peripheral spending to the state.

When the incentives were killed, he notes, “All the productions left.”

Still, that doesn’t change the advantages that Wilson offers the firm, he says.