New studio to also develop animation, other projects

Digital Domain’s new Florida digital production studio is planning to carve out niches in videogames, animation and even military simulation graphics.

The Port St. Lucie studio will bear the Digital Domain name and, for now, movie f/x will be done primarily at the Los Angeles and Vancouver outposts.

In addition to $50 million in new investment from DD parent company Wyndcrest Holdings, the studio is getting a $10 million cash grant from local developers, administered by the city of Port St. Lucie; a 15-acre land grant from a local developer, valued at $10 million; and a $20 million grant from the state of Florida’s Office of Tourism, Trade and Economic Development.

Move follows DD’s recent announcement that it will expand to Vancouver (Daily Variety, Oct. 6).

Moreover, Florida State U.’s film school has signed a letter of intent to partner with Wyndcrest on the new facility.

David Rivera, chairman of the appropriations committee for the Florida House of Representatives, told Daily Variety, “Anything we can do to incentivize growth of (the film) industry is good for our state.”

DD Florida will focus on videogames and animation, said Cliff Plumer, CEO of Digital Domain. “We can do that now in Florida and keep Vancouver and California focused on feature film visual effects,” he added.

Digital Domain has been developing its own animation projects internally, and with the new 150,000-square-foot studio now in the works, “We’re able to accelerate our plans,” Plumer said.

The new studio also will have a defense division working on creating high-quality graphics for military simulation and training, an established industry in central Florida (Daily Variety, July 30).

The incentive package requires DD Florida to have at least 500 employees, paid an average of $65,000, within four years. The Vancouver facility will have another 100 by the end of 2009.

That will greatly expand DD’s total workforce, which now numbers around 330.

Plumer also reiterated that Venice-based DD will keep its headquarters in California.

“The decisionmakers, the filmmakers, are all in L.A. We need to have our core presence there for that part of the business,” he said.

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