Visual effects studio opens new branch

Visual effects studio Digital Domain is expanding, opening a branch in Vancouver, B.C.

Hiring begins immediately at DD’s Vancouver branch, with 50-60 artists coming onboard and more than 100 by year’s end. The facility will be built out to some 20,000 square feet and will be dedicated to feature film vfx.

It will launch with work on Disney’s “Tron Legacy,” which is already in production at DD’s Venice studio.

DD also announced it has tapped veteran vfx executive and Oscar winner Gloria Borders for a new post: president, feature film operations. Borders will be based in Venice, Calif., and oversee vfx production at both facilities. All vfx supervisors and producers on DD’s movies will report to her. She will report directly to CEO Cliff Plumer.

Plumer told Daily Variety that Borders has been instrumental in guiding DD’s expansion plans and is one of several executives the companyhas brought onboard to maintain quality as it expands and outsources to other vendors.

Borders won an Oscar for sound editing on “Terminator 2: Judgment Day.” She was most recently head of studio at DreamWorks Animation, where she oversaw “Shrek the Third” and “Madagascar 2.” She is a former Skywalker Sound topper and was head of post-production at Revolution Studios.

Plumer said senior management for the Vancouver facility is not yet in place. With the expansion, executive producer Mark Miller will devote more time to developing original content. Commercials division prexy Ed Ulbrich will report to Plumer. The company’s HQ will remain in Venice.

DD was hit with an expensive judgment in a lawsuit last summer and has been dogged by rumors, including speculation the company’s parent, Wyndcrest Holdings, was about sell it. In its announcement, Digital Domain made a point of saying the expansion is being financed by a new capital infusion from Wyndcrest.

Plumer called the expansion “a natural growth for DD.”

“It’s all about economics. Clearly, all the studios and filmmakers are looking to get as much out of the dollar as possible. We’ve seen the U.K. visual effects industry grow quite a bit the last 15 years. Now a lot of studios and filmmakers are looking elsewhere.”

With London shops booked solid for months to come thanks to tax incentives and a beneficial exchange rate, Vancouver is emerging as an important digital production hub. Pixar and Prime Focus VFX are also ramping up there, and Technicolor’s Moving Picture Co. has recently expanded in Vancouver and expects to do so again.

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