Comment of the Day: Digital Domain Should Avoid Missteps of Others

Digital Domain is jumping head first into the feature animation game. Veteran studio owner and director Uli Meyer suggested in our comments that DD should look carefully at the past and avoid repeating the mistakes of other vfx houses that have tried to do the same thing:

The big post production houses are all depending on service work and the idea of creating content must be very tempting. If successful, that could mean a certain independence and less having to bid against other post houses to secure a few effects shots on the next big blockbuster. It makes a lot of sense to try and do that from a business point of view.

Framestore in the UK did go part of the way towards that goal by making A Tale Of Desperaux as a service project but have not managed to follow with one of their own (as far as I know). Being good at running an effects company does not automatically make you a film maker. Hiring a hand-full of people who have been employed by one of the other content creators before is a start but if those guys do not have the infrastructure to support them, their best ideas won’t go very far. And with infrastructure I don’t mean render farms and fur software.

If the management will allow an entirely new structure to develop, there is a chance something good can happen. And should they manage to make one film, a second won’t happen immediately and I guess they can always use their new facility to work on effects shots.

Whenever I read about news like this, I have this idea that the people in charge should look at all the other failed similar attempts by others and try and learn from those mistakes. There are plenty of them. I sincerely hope those mistakes won’t happen here, only time will tell. As to family films — there is always room for another one as long as it is a good one, whatever that is. Good luck!


  • Amy

    And without a distributor–it’s hard. With a distributor–it’s harder–because they have to sell the film, and they tend to want to call the shots. I suppose one of the first things they might consider is getting a strong management team in place that LIKES ANIMATION–and hires a director/writer, or at least a writer who will be subservient to the story and director.

  • http://www.mr-dunn.com mr-dunn*

    great post uli !..
    i agree with everything you say except your spelling of despereaux..
    :)

    • http://www.elliotelliotelliot.com Elliot Cowan

      I agree with Gary.

    • http://funnylittlemen.co.uk/ MRoig

      Great post Gary,

      except for your spelling of Uli as uli. :)

      And of course, Uli’s point is very well made. Couldn’t agree more.

  • Lynda

    It’s all about creating the sense that something is going on in Florida. Then that makes it okay to take millions from the government and build a building that isn’t needed. And maybe they can create enough of a stir to raise more millions for an IPO. Very fishy.

  • ZigZag

    Uli wisely stated:

    “Whenever I read about news like this, I have this idea that the people in charge should look at all the other failed similar attempts by others and try and learn from those mistakes. There are plenty of them.”

    It seems to me that this post would be a good place to collect those stories, unless there’s a compendium elsewhere online or in published form. Seems like a strong idea for your next book, Amid.

    I think Uli also puts his finger on it when he said:

    “Being good at running an effects company does not automatically make you a film maker.”

    No truer words have been spoken. Effects houses get orders for shots and sequences, and are directed by the studios who hire them. What’s missing most here is the absence of any overall storytelling—the key to making a good feature. They may be brought up to speed on the content of the film, but effects houses by nature are just not involved. And while everyone in the pipeline has their opinions on what makes a good film, it’s a whole other ball of wax to make that the chief responsibility of the crew.

    All that said, if you’re a studio like Digital Domain, ya gotta give it a shot…as often as you can. Good luck, DD.

  • http://thisisonlya.blogspot.com robcat2075

    We could sit and stress about important details not in evidence from this story but it’s very unlikely the newspaper article that spawns this concern is an accurate description of all the efforts DD has put into creating a studio.

    How often do newspapers get the details of animation, business or otherwise, right?

    I’ll bet that more thought has gone into this venture than is related in a 2000 word popular press article by a reporter whose regular beat seems to be city hall, not the animation industry.

  • greg m.

    Wisely put Uli – good sensible advice!