The Imager Laboratory was established in 1989 by Alain Fournier and his students, and research associate Peter Cahoon. Over the next few years they were joined by faculty members Kellogg Booth, David Forsey, Dinesh Pai, and Jack Snoeyink, and by a number of new graduate students.

Imager initially shared resources with the MAGIC, the Media and Graphics Interdisciplinary Centre, including state-of-the-art workstations and software from three of the leading animation software companies in Canada: Alias, Vertigo, and Wavefront. Full-time staff included a professional aninmator and a systems administrator.

In 1993 Imager moved to the CICSR/CS Building (now the West Wing of ICICS/CS) where it continued to expand its research activities through a number of collaborative projects with researchers in a variety of disciplines at UBC. In 2000 Imager moved to temporary quarters in the Forest Sciences Centre, again sharing facilities with MAGIC. During this time it entered its second stage of growth during which Robert Bridson, Wolfgang Heidrich, Karon MacLean, Joanna McGrenere, Tamara Munzner, Ron Rensink, Alla Sheffer, and Michiel van de Panne joined as faculty members. In 2005 it moved to its current facilities in the X Wing of the ICICS/CS Building.

In its most recent phase of growth, it has been joined by Helge Rhodin, Robert Xiao, and Dongwook Yoon.