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F/X FIRM IN SHUFFLE

Digital Domain taps Ulbrich to run prod'n

At Venice-based effects and multimedia company Digital Domain, an exec shuffle has landed Ed Ulbrich atop the firm’s production unit.

Ulbrich, who was one of DD’s first employees when the company formed in 1993, has been heading DD’s commercial production unit. Under the new scenario, Andrew Millstein, DD’s exec producer, who has overseen production of feature film effects on projects such as “Dante’s Peak” and upcoming “The Fifth Element,” is now reporting to Ulbrich.

Digital Domain president and CEO Scott Ross said the move was made to “cross-collateralize in feature production. Since day one, one of the things I’ve wanted to do here was give creative people the opportunity to work in multiple formats. But what’s happened is, if you join the commercial division, you just work in commercials, and the same is true for features.”

About 25 people who had previously been in the feature film group are now reporting to Ulbrich.

‘Peak’ performance

While Ross praised the work of both Ulbrich and Millstein, sources say the shifts are at least partly due to turmoil during production of “Dante’s Peak.”

Because Universal moved the film’s release date, 12 weeks were shaved off the time DD had to produce effects. Sources told Daily Variety that the situation on the Van Nuys set became so chaotic that DD had to let go its inhouse producer on the film.

Ross acknowledges that the producer is no longer with the company, but said because it was such a large job, there were some inherent challenges on “Dante’s Peak.”

‘The biggest’

“In my career, it’s been the biggest visual effects film I’ve been involved with. There were a ton of people involved, which means a lot of invoices and paperwork, and we’re still checking everything very carefully to make sure all i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed,” he said.

In another move, studio operations director Joel Krasnove is now reporting directly to Ross. Previously, Krasnove had reported to Ruth Scovill, who had overseen both studio operations and DD’s digital production unit. Scovill is now VP of digital operations, with responsibility for only that area.

“Ruth’s job was one of the biggest in the company,” said Ross. “She oversaw art, cameras, digital building, and we needed someone with closer involvement on just the digital side. The more traditional filmmaking side runs pretty well, since it’s an established business, unlike digital.”

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